by Fiona Barton
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For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife. When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen... But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…
The Widow by Fiona Barton shares the tale from the perspective of a wife whose husband has been accused of committing a heinous crime. One often wonders if the spouse knew what their significant other was up to, if they aided them or turned a blind eye. The Widow shares with us such a case.
Through the voice of widow Jean Taylor, Bob Sparkes the lead detective and those of journalist, Kate Waters and the mother of the victim we gain firsthand knowledge as Barton unraveled the mysteries surrounding the case. The synopsis does not mention the crime, so I am not going to divulge that in my review. I will say that Glenn Taylor is suspected of a crime that most will find horrifying, unthinkable and particularly heinous.
Whenever a particularly gruesome new story makes the headlines, you often wonder if the parents, wife or siblings knew about the violent acts, their loved one was committing. We think the same thing when a spouse is cheating. How could the wife/husband not know? I think in retrospect there are signs. Barton does a suspenseful job of showing the many sides of Jean Taylor. She made her decisions, actions and struggles seem authentic.
The timeline goes back and forth between the present and the time of the crime, both through the character’s retelling and the detective’s case. While the crime was horrific, Barton spared readers the gruesome details and for once, I was beyond grateful. We skirted the darkness and I still shuttered.
Barton allows readers to understand Jean Taylor, her marriage and her reaction as events unfolded. We saw the subtle manipulation, the cracks that began to appear and began to understand Jean’s psyche. It was a brilliant case study.
I really wish this was not marketed as the next Girl on the Train or Gone Girl . The Widow is not a twisted/big-reveal type thriller. Jean does surprise us, but I think marketing did Barton a disservice. The Widow falls more in the mystery genre. It is very well written but I fear people will be expecting something different. I became caught up in the case and its characters and wasn’t disappointed but I did go into it with the wrong expectations. I cried for the victim and cringed as we went through the court trial and learned more about Glenn. Barton brought Bob Sparkes to life and I felt the weight this case had on him and his family. I felt for the victim’s mother even as I mentally scolded her. Surprisingly while I didn’t care for Jean, I did sympathize with her and can understand why the mind turns a blind eye, even if subconsciously we know the dark answer. Some knowledge is too great to bear.
The Widow wrapped up nicely giving readers the answers they desperately needed. Forget Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train. The Widow is an engaging mystery that brings us into the heart of a marriage as we gain answer to what really happened.
This sounds wonderful!!!!! I can’t wait to jump in and read it!!!
Enjoy, I had a nice time reading this.
I don’t remember hearing of this one, but I love a good mystery and this sounds interesting. I have often wondered about the family members of people who have been accused of terrible crimes, so I am intrigued. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I was drawn to this for that very reason Jess, it was fascinating.
This one looks great! I really wish it wasn’t marketed as the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train as well because I’m tired of every thriller getting compared to those. UGH. Not every thriller has the same elements!
Exactly, and I love getting inside the wife’s head and detectives.
I have not read either of those examples but my sister lent me Girl on a Train-a long time ago-I have not felt the urge to read it. I saw the movie Gone Girl and I am happy I didn’t read it. The Widow being different appeals to me more so because of that. But it didn’t quite make it to 4 stars so that gives me pause. Great review 🙂
Don’t let that stop you. This is a great read. I was disappointed by the marketing, but gave it a 4 on Amazon.
I completely agree about it being more mystery instead of thriller in the Gone Girl vein. I was a bad girl and revealed the crime, though. I debated on whether to or not but kept seeing red flags and trigger warnings all over it.
If she had been more descriptive I would have, but I think she kept things in the safe zone. I tried to stick to my no-spoiler policy. In retrospect I could have added a hidden spoiler. Many on Goodreads gave it away so you are not alone.
This sounds so good…..but I know people say a 3 star review is good, but when I give a book three stars it usually means I didn’t connect well with it. So I am nervous. I of course will probably still read it because it sounds too good to pass up :). Great review as always Kim!
I totally recommend this, and was completely caught up, so don’t hesitate. On Amazon and Goodreads I marked it a 4 🙂
I feel like when books get hyped as the next “blah blah” or X meets Y, I’m always a little weary. I’m glad that there were still highlights that stood out in this story (and that some of the gruesome details were spared!)! Great review, Kim.
Thanks Cyn, this was a fantastic mystery/suspense
This is exactly the kind of genre I can’t get enough of lately! I really wish they would stop with the book comparisons; I’m with you — they can do more harm than good. This is another one that’s going on my list. Great review!
I am loving this genre at the moment. Glad to hear I am not the only one annoyed by the comparisons.
I like a book that makes you question, Kimberly. And that is something Gone Girl did for me – made me question how well you really ever know someone. The Widow sounds interesting…maybe even more so that Gone Girl did to me. But I don’t like marketing campaigns where the publisher compares the book to other famous books. A book should be able to stand on its own and it seems it happens so often that books suffer from those comparisons. :/ Anyway, I’m happy you enjoyed The Widow and I’ll definitely consider picking it up. 😀
I enjoyed Gone Girl too and hope you decide to grab this one Brandee!
The Bibliophile Babe
I hate the marketing comparison, too! This sounds like an interesting read. 🙂
It seems like everything that’s even slightly dark and twisted is compared to Gone Girl. It’s definitely a disservice. This does sound interesting despite the comparison and I find the whole concept fascinating. Anytime something horrible happens you always see a picture of the shell shocked wife. A story from her perspective would be interesting.
I found the blurb interesting enough to make me want to pick it up and flip through the pages. Thanks for the post.
This sounds like a solid mystery, but I agree with you about not liking that it is marketed as the next Gone Girl. Ever since that book it seems like every new mystery written by a female author is the next Gone Girl. And they all have Girl in the title haha. I just got a copy of The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, so we’ll see if this one follows the trend.
Tyler H. Jolley
It sounds like this might be reminiscent of A Good Marriage, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Sometimes I think they don’t do the book justice when they say it’s like other books cause it can some times disappoint a reader when it’s not exactly like what they say. This sounds like an interesting book. Great review. 🙂
Looking at the cover it makes me want to know more about the woman who you can’t really see. Sounds like a great mystery story.
it’s great to have a good mystery like that , It looks intriguing. thanks for the discovery!
Thanks Melliane, I hope you decide to try it 🙂
This sounds really intriguing! And I want to know what the heinous crime was (though I’m afraid too). I also like that this is more of a mystery than a thriller. That is a bonus for me.
My review posts for this next week and I had many of the same thoughts you did. I was expecting some big twists or stunning suprises and I was disappointed when that didn’t happen. I didnt’ really care for Jean either, but I was totally caught up in the case and I liked Bob.
I slipped right into the story and I am glad to hear you liked it as well.
I am going to have to read The Widow, Kim! It sounds really good, and you’re right, we often wonder, don’t we? I think sometimes looking back we can see signs we didn’t see when things were happening, but at the same time, over a long period, it seems almost impossible that those closest to a person won’t suspect anything at all.
Great review! Adding to my TBR right now 🙂
Thanks Lexxie, I look forward to your take on it 🙂
This sounds like an episode right off of Snapped. Interesting premise of looking at the story from the widow’s perspective. I bet the revelations were juicy!
The way the story unfolded and how we learned her thoughts and revelations was well done.
Publishers often do a disservice for books by marketing them as “the next this book” or “for fans of that book”. As a result potential readers form wrong expectations and end up disappointed. I’m not sure this book is for me, but I glad you liked it. Great review, Kim!
Thanks Ksenia. If they get it right its wonderful, but wrong it can be toxic.
Love that even though it skirted the darkness, you still shuddered! This sounds like it would be perfect for fall!
Yes, and I am grateful she kept the darker details to a minimum.
I am disappointed by those who market so many books with that “Gone Girl, Girl on the Train” comparison. It does a disservice to the books.
I enjoyed this one, and I tried not to have that comparison in my mind while reading it…the book is very different from those notable mentions.
Thanks for sharing.
I am delighted you enjoyed this as well and it is VERY different but good!
I was tempted to request this when I saw “Gone Girl” in the description, but I stopped myself. I love thrillers, and I don’t read them often, but I’ll have to wait and see of my library gets this one in. Great review!
I hope they do, it was a good one!
Felicia GeekyBlogger (
I had been avoiding this one because of the comparisons (since neither of those twists worked for me) but after reading your review I want to read it. I always think there are many victims in crimes (especially serial ones). Sometimes those victims include the perps closest friends/family and they are least likely to get sympathy. They are victims of absorbing some of the blame for what the other did. Do they know (and not talking about this case) in hindsight– maybe but in most cases serial perps are so good at blending that I highly doubt it. This is on my library hold list.
I am glad I shared then. It really does make you ponder Felicia.
First, I love the simplicity of this cover. It’s gorgeous and haunting and I want to know more about this woman who’s blurred enough that I can’t make out any details about her.
Second, it sounds amazing! I definitely want to get to know Jean, and I know it will make me ask myself if I would notice the signs were I in her shoes. Definitely adding this to the list Kim!
It was an easy story to slip into a I quickly became caught up in their lives, the case and the knowing
Great review Kim I hate comparisons although I’m guilty of doing it too and I’m also guilty of expectations that aren’t filled when I expect one thing and get another.
Yes but I think when we as a reader make comparisons we have a better grasp.
Great review Kimberly. I enjoyed this novel (my review will be later this month). I agree with you. The book being represented as similar to Gone Girl, might have been a disservice. It was an engaging mystery.
Thanks Pat. I am happy to hear you liked it too and shared the same thoughts on marketing
I really have a problem with marketing at publishing houses sometimes. It really does a disservice to authors who often feel the backlash in reviews, and it’s not even their fault. UGH. This sounds wonderful, though!! What a great idea for a book, as heinous (I love that word – word of the day, I will make it – yes, I Yoda’d that) as it sounds.
Me too, and this is a good mystery thriller with some great perspective from a different point of view..so I hope folks read it.
I really don’t like when publishers use the comparison marketing tool. Like you said, when it doesn’t turn out to be that way, the book winds up suffering because the reader has these expectations.
Anyways, I love that you were so vague as to the nature of the crime. Now, that is an effective way to get me to pick up a book!
Great review, Kim!
I really try to never reveal more than the synopsis..especially with this type of read..I hope you give it a go.
It definitely stinks that it’s marketed as the next GG and GotT. I doubt it’s the only way to garner attention. Your review alone makes me want to add it to my tbr pile 🙂
Yes..I am glad my review sold it for you Priscilla
C’mon, you know I need to know what the crime is now! Ugh, that sucks about the GG marketing. Even though it’s a good book, you know there will be disappointed people just because they’ll expect another GG.
Oh you can find plenty of spoiler reviews on Goodreads. I was shocked when I read some today..why spoil it.
For fans of two books I have not read yet
That is ok,..this is nothing like them..LOL