Thursday, 18 February 2016

"The Widow" by Fiona Barton | Book Review

The Widow by Fiona Barton
Publishing Date: February 16, 2016
Pages: 324
Publisher: New American Library
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Kobo

Jean Taylor's husband was accused of abducting a child four years ago but despite all evidence pointing to him as the culprit, he was never convicted. He's dead now. But Jean still can't escape the allegations - everyone wants to know what happened to little Bella. Jean's kept a lot of secrets over the years and now that her controlling husband is dead...she can tell the world.

The Widow was a dark, heavy read. It deals with a child abduction, so of course that's to be expected with such a tragic situation that happens all too often in real life. The case in the story was what I imagine some real-life cases are like, in terms of getting evidence that becomes inadmissible in court for one reason or another, or having an overwhelming gut feeling about someone but having trouble creating a case against them. It's incredibly frustrating.

The setting and characters of this story are distinctly English and as a half-English person who watches a lot of British TV, I was able to appreciate the references to Jeremy Kyle and Chocolate Buttons. Although it doesn't take away from the story if you don't understand the little references.

The Widow has been compared to Gone Girl, which I don't really see, other than the fact that both books have twists and turns. It did remind me of ITV's Broadchurch though, because both cases involve children and there are so many new developments over the course of the story that you just don't know what to believe. I think the detective's point of view was particularly accurate to real life, because we're shown how frustrating and upsetting the case is for him - it really takes its toll.

The characters are all interesting - they're not all likable, but they're definitely all interesting. We get several different perspectives in this novel, including The Widow, The Reporter, and The Detective, so we're able to see the case through different eyes and how it affects each individual differently.

The only thing I didn't enjoy about this book was the timeline. It goes back and forth over the course of the four years the case was active, and as such I found myself struggling to keep the dates straight.
The Widow in her awesome packaging
However, the long timeline is necessary and in a way, it does keep the story fresh as you're always receiving new information to piece together the case.

The Widow is a dark, twisted read about something that happens far too often: child abduction. It's an emotional roller coaster, and not just because you constantly find yourself convinced of one outcome, and then questioning everything on the next page.

I also want to take a moment to appreciate the marketing for this book. It arrived in an evidence bad (complete with the actual case information!) and a bag of Skittles, which are important to the story. I love how creative this packaging is!

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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