What if the person you thought you knew better than anyone turned out to be a stranger? This terrifying concept is explored by Christian White in his latest psychological thriller The Wife and the Widow, the follow-up novel to his bestseller, The Nowhere Child.
Kate Keddie is at the airport with her 10-year-old daughter Mia. They’re eagerly awaiting the return of husband and father, John, who has spent the past two weeks at a work colloquium in London. But John never gets off the plane. As it happens, he never went to London and has been lying to Kate about his whereabouts. As Kate takes it upon herself to uncover the details of her husband’s secrets, her search leads her to Belport, a sleepy island town where they own a holiday home. It’s not long before Kate receives some devastating news – a body has been found and they think it’s John.
Abby Gilpin lives in Belport with her two teenaged children and her husband, Ray. They spend their days working hard to make ends meet – Ray as an island caretaker and Abby at the local supermarket. Belport is a bustling holiday town in the summer, but nothing much happens in the winter. Until now. One day, when Abby is out for a jog, she notices police at the beach. Someone has been murdered. Abby remembers finding Ray’s work clothes and boots in the rubbish and then she makes a shocking discovery in their garage. Could Ray be linked to the murder? Does she really knows her husband at all?
While these two women are independently investigating the secret lives of their husbands; how they ultimately connect will have you engrossed in the story, leading to the significant ‘a-ha’ moment where everything suddenly makes sense, before speeding towards a dramatic conclusion. The easy writing style and cliffhanger chapter endings will keep you reading well into the night – everyone I know who has read this book has finished it within a matter of days, if not hours, myself included. Familiar tropes of the isolated island setting, communities where everyone knows everyone, small town gossip, secrets and people who aren’t all they appear to be, are masterfully reshaped into a fresh and exciting story. In a genre where it’s becoming increasingly difficult for writers to think of original and creative twists, The Wife and the Widow has a real doozy that will leave you reeling.
I had the pleasure of meeting Christian White and listening to him speak about crime fiction writing at a recent event at Avid Reader in Brisbane. As a screenwriter, he has an excellent understanding of storytelling and how to create suspense, and he is also a very friendly person who is happy to share his wisdom and time with fellow writers and readers.
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White is published by Affirm Press.
‘John wouldn’t do that,’ Fisher said, but his words were like a backdrop in a Hollywood studio, held together by balsawood and coated in cheap paint.