The Widow

The Widow, Fiona Barton's debut, is a complex psychological thriller that probes the depths of a terrible crime and the lasting impact it has had on all of them.

The novel opens on the recently widowed Jean Taylor, who has just lost her husband to a terrible bus accident. Reporters want to hear her story and her thoughts on losing her husband, but Jean knows she cannot tell them the truth. To Jean's surprise, the police claim that Glen has not only been downloading child pornography in their home, they believe he's responsible for the disappearance of two-year-old Bella Elliott--though they can't quite prove it. Yet.

The majority of The Widow is told through Jean's first-person narration, but Barton has expertly woven other perspectives into the novel. There is the story of Bob Sparkes, the detective assigned to the Bella Elliott case from the outset, and his determination to find the missing child. There is the story of Dawn Elliott, Bella's mother, whose voice lends an added layer of desperation and sadness to the novel. And there is the perspective of Kate Waters, a journalist determined to score an exclusive interview with Jean Taylor.

While each of the secondary characters in Barton's novel feels real and fully imagined, it is Kate's thread that proves most nuanced and interesting--not surprising, given Barton's decades-long career in journalism. All of this makes The Widow successful psychological suspense that combines probing questions about the human psyche with masterful plotting and sharply drawn characters whose dark secrets waver in the public eye. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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