The backcover blurb is a bit vague so I had no idea going into this book what it was going to be about, so when we get to the…. ummm… secret quite early on, it’s a surprise.
We then cruise along for a while (giving us time to absorb what we’re reading) and towards the end – BAM! – another twist; making this a very strong debut novel by US author, Samantha Downing.
My Lovely Wife
by Samantha Downing
Published by Michael Joseph
on March 26th 2019
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 0241368499, 9780241368497
Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn't perfect - you know that - but then again nor are you.
But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.
Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.
The book unfolds through the eyes of a man. I flicked back through the book as I was writing this as it occurred to me that I didn’t know his name. And perhaps Downing doesn’t tell us. But when we first meet him he’s calling himself Tobias.
Which is not his name.
We soon learn it’s part of a game he’s playing. A role he slips into. Easily it seems, but as things get complicated our narrator struggles. Suddenly it’s not what he signed up for and the repercussions of his date nights with wife Millicent and his eagerness to impress her resonate within his own family and those around him.
Downing cleverly shares snippets from the past so we learn how our narrator and Millicent came to be where they are now. Simple misfortune? Fate? But – as the backcover blurb implies – things aren’t always as they seem.
For me this book offers something a bit new; something different. Which is impressive given the amount of psychological thrillers and novels of suspense I read.
I had a lot of questions as I read this and Downing answered most of them. I’ve commented on some plot holes in other books I’ve read recently but I didn’t have that issue here. Things weren’t tied up in an overly predictable way, but we got explanations and understood ‘why’.
Because I didn’t know what I was about to read this whole book was a bit of a sleeper for me. The early twist made me sit up and notice. I was worried then, wondering where Downing was going to take us. Would there just be more of the same? But no, she goes off on an entirely different tangent and – because of the repercussions on those around our narrator – also delves more deeply into the impact of the book’s events as well, requiring some reflection and analysis.
** Almost 4.5 stars from me **
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing was published in Australia by Penguin Random House and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.