Marie’s Reading: “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing

lovely wifeOur unnamed narrator and his beautiful wife, Millicent, have found a great way to spice up their 15-year marriage: they murder young women and then devise ways to get away with it.

The couple has a nice house in the Florida suburbs.  He’s a tennis pro, she’s a realtor.  They have a son and a daughter.  And both Millicent and her husband are stone cold in their own ways.  Yet, since we’re in the husband’s head the whole time and hearing the story from his point of view, his necessary charm and ease come across really well, and you see why he’s so good at his half of what he and his wife are up to.

I don’t want to give away too much of this plot, because so much depends on surprises and twists and turns.  I was enthralled the whole way through, and, as I said, the narrator is great–totally absorbing and convincing, and oh so charming, so good at appearing sympathetic.   And so twisted.

The dynamic of their marriage is a fascinating one to read about.  The husband projects so much onto Millicent, makes her into an almost other-worldly creature rather than a human woman, that you are left wondering what she’s really like.  It’s another nice, unsettling touch to an already unreliable narrator.

The pace of this thriller is fantastic.  It’s compelling all the way through, rockets through the last third, and the ending is a punch.  Downing keeps up the suspense and never bogs the story down.  Every detail is well-placed and the writing itself is very evocative, filled with mounting tension.  There’s some great family detail as well, though, and some well-placed black humor.  It’s not gory or explicit, either.

If you like Gillian Flynn’s books, give this one a try!

–Marie

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