Fiona Barton's debut novel, The Widow has just released. And it only took me a day to devour it.....
Jean's husband has just accidentally died - hit by a bus as they waited at the corner to cross. "You see, my husband died last week. Everyone was very kind and trying to stop me from seeing his body, but I couldn't tell them I was glad he was gone. No more of his nonsense."
That's from the opening pages - and I was immediately hooked. Why is she glad? What nonsense? Well, Glen was a suspect in the disappearance of a little girl - never found. Glen vehemently denied he had anything to do with it and Jean, being a good wife, stood by him.
Barton tells her story from the present - after Glen's death as a reporter tries to get 'the real story' out of Jean and the past - as a detective desperately tries to find the little girl. We're privy to not just Jean's thoughts, but also those of the mother of the missing child and the detective.
Barton deliciously ekes out the story - each new chapter reveals a little more. Cutting back and forth between time lines only serves to heighten the tension and draw the reader in further. And as I read, my thoughts on Jean changed many times - what did she know, was she protecting Glen or was she involved?
I'm always curious as to where an author's idea for a book comes from. Barton says this about The Widow... "The worm of this book infected me long ago when, as a national newspaper journalist covering notorious crimes and trials, I found myself wondering what the wives of those accused really knew – or allowed themselves to know." Let's just say everyone lies in The Widow.
The Widow was an utterly addictive read that I couldn't put down. What a great debut - I'm already looking forward to Barton's next book. You can connect with Fiona Barton on her website as well as on Twitter.