In her debut novel, Fiona Barton has garnered a lot of attention and even an endorsement by horror master, Stephen King. The book falls into the vein of recent bestsellers like “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train” and concentrates on the dark secrets that can occur within a marriage.The main character, Jean Taylor has spent years being the perfect wife, even when her husband was suspected of committing a heinous crime, enduring the glares of those who had convicted her husband in their minds. Now her husband, Glen was dead, so she didn’t need to stay quiet and everyone wanted to hear her story; the police, the reporters and the public. Everyone says they just want the truth, but truth is elusive and even Jean isn’t quite sure what the truth actually was.Jean’s husband, Glen, is perhaps the greatest mystery in the book. Cold and controlling, Glen’s death doesn’t seem to really upset Jean and even though physically gone, the character and his past behaviour looms in the background, like an ominous dark shadow.
This book is definitely a mystery-thriller, containing a number of plot twists, most of which I didn’t see coming. Telling the story from a variety of viewpoints keeps the reader off balance. Actions are seen through Jean’s eyes, as well as the detective who tried to convict Glen and Kate Waters who desperately wants Jean’s story. So any comment, look or action can be interpreted by what the observer expects or wants to see. Particularly effective on Barton’s part was keeping Jean a possibly unreliable narrator of her story, even to herself, so that both the character and the reader notice the small mistakes or omissions that occur as she repeats her tale.