The Widow is a mystery that centers on one particular crime. A toddler disappeared in the front lawn of their house creating a vacuum of events that will lead them to Glen and Jean Taylor – a couple seemingly content in their childless suburban life. But the more we delve into their story, the more we see what’s really behind the curtain. Jean Taylor was a devout wife to Glen Taylor’s old-fashioned, patriarchal disposition. They are routinely British as marriages go. The book opened with Glen already dead, so the sequence of events threw me off a little.
Throughout the novel, we’re given privy to relationship between media, witnesses, suspects, and the police. I enjoyed trying to decipher everyone’s motives and degree of participation to the crime. As each revelation brought me closer to the truth, the more conflicted I felt. Don’t get me wrong, there is a clear perpetrator here – that was given from the very start, but the whole time, I felt a bit of sadness for a devoted wife who longed for a child for years. Ms. Barton brought these characters to life not to be endeared or revered. Certainly, not all of them are all that likable. But they are all perfectly flawed in their weaknesses.
The Widow also offers a few perspectives – with each chapter headlined from the point of view of the speaker: The Widow, The Detective, The Reporter. So the story was told as they saw fit. Obviously, the main focus of the story is Jean Taylor and the demise of a relatively quiet and comfortable marriage. And with the death of her husband, a joyous but guilt-ridden relief.
The Widow is nowhere near the twisted tale of Gone Girl, but it offers a different kind of nightmare altogether. Fiona Barton cleverly flayed every dark niches of a crime investigation without losing the story’s suspenseful momentum. Disturbing to say the least. A revelation in more ways than one. The Widow was like getting a peek at how your neighbours actually live. Their secret lives that we never see. And in the end, it makes you wonder if you’re truly better off knowing or if you could’ve gone on your whole life not knowing. Either way, you can’t unsee/unknow it.