May 27, 2021
Every marriage has its secrets…
Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.
When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.
But the worst is beyond imagining.
As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.
What do you as a reader want in a mystery/thriller novel? For me, I want tension. I want to be kept almost literally on the edge of my seat, guessing what’s going to come next, biting my nails, being entranced by a guessing game. For me, that is the height of a good mystery. While reading The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter, I wasn’t biting any nails, instead I was making notes about the behavior of Beth Hardcastle because she seemed totally off from the beginning and I’m pretty certain that unless you are a novice mystery reader, that won’t in any way be a spoiler event.
Beth’s husband Tom is taken into custody regarding the disappearance of Katie, a woman he’d dated seven years earlier. It’s suddenly come ..to light that she might not have just gone off traveling to India as her first emails indicated. Now her disappearance is being investigated as a murder.
Beth’s behavior is as confusing as is the narration. For information that is revealed later, the initial narration is sloppy because it’s based on what the reader doesn’t know. But the narrator should know and it all should be logical, regardless. Both Beth and Tom know what’s going on and the narration just doesn’t hold up. It’s like the reader is supposed to be dumb and guided by the nose. I am not a fan of this style of writing.
Beth’s immediate reaction and flirtation with Adam, a recent widower, was a red flag to me. She comes across as superficial and lacking in emotion. Her reactions and emotions never really come together as a woman whose husband has just been dragged off to jail. She’s always off. Or flirty. which is also off.
What Hunter tries to pull off is ambitious for a debut author and I’m afraid, in my opinion, that she just doesn’t manage to do it. The net result—for me—was clumsy narration that didn’t instill tension or add mystery. I was not surprised by the outcome. I was never fully engaged with the book although I was eager to stick with it and discover the ending.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 out of 5 butterflies