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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Between Victimhood And Complicity

The Widow - Fiona Barton

The premise of The Widow is both ambitious and brave. It's an attempt to get inside the mind of the the wife of a man suspected of abducting and murdering a two year old girl.

 

Narrated from the point of view of the wife in question, now a widow, the detective investigating the girl's disappearance, and a journalist covering the case, the narrative proceeds like a dance of seven veils, gradually revealing more and more of the truth about the fate of the girl and in doing so laying bare the internal workings of the husband/wife relationship.

 

If you're looking for dramatic plot twists you won't find them here. The focus is instead on the characters who are boldly and largely successfully drawn. though there is just a little too much reliance upon stock traits - hard-bitten journalist, obsessed detective - and the narrative never quite manages to dig as far beneath the surface as this reader would have liked. There is also a lot of telling rather than showing. But that's a fault of so many crime novels.

 

Nevertheless, despite its nightmarish subject,  The Widow is a remarkably compelling and even entertaining read, cleverly probing the line between victimhood and complicity.