A review by Annabelle Lee
The Wife and the Widow by Australian author Christian White is a thrilling murder mystery. Set on a small holiday island off the coast of Melbourne, it takes place during the frigid “off” season.
Seriously?! Annabelle, YOU LIVE IN CANBERRA. At Melbourne’s coldest it doesn’t get down to the average mid-winter evening temperatures in Canberra! – Editor.
A husband doesn’t come home from a work trip he never took and nobody is taking it seriously. It comes down to Kate, his wife, to find answers. As you may have gathered in the title, soon Kate is the freshly grieving widow, still trying to solve the mystery. Abby is an island resident who is beginning to suspect that things aren’t quite what they seem with her husband as the scandal of a murder rocks the island. Each of them holds a piece of the puzzle to figure out what really happened, when nothing is as it seems.
Oh the Tension!
The Wife and the Widow alternates the story between two women, both mothers, both doing their best in their circumstances. One, an island resident, the other from the city, led to the island to find her missing husband. White uses the alternate perspectives to build tension, as the reader sees key information the other woman isn’t privy to. As the story progresses, it becomes harder to put down as anticipation for the characters to finally meet and put it all together peaks. And just at that moment: a tremendous twist that will make you want to go back and read it all over again to identify all the clues.
Both of the main characters in the story are distinct and entirely believable. As an Australian woman, they ring true as Australian female characters. Their lives beforehand and then the impact of the murder is written with skill and precision. Likewise, White expertly captures the isolated island and its specific culture, the locals verses the tourists they rely on. Essentially, White has done an excellent job in his crafting of this novel, resulting in an engaging, authentic and gripping story.
One of the main themes of the story is grief, both from the perspective of someone who has lost a loved one, and the perspective of someone who has lost trust for a loved one. Both have had their lives changed forever, in ways they can’t quite comprehend. Grief is complicated at the best of times, but to see such diverse presentations of it, contrasted side by side, by women who have everything and nothing in common is something to behold.
The Wife and the Widow delivers in its promise of thrill and suspense. An interesting premise, skillfully delivered, it’s both relatable and engaging. I enjoyed reading this book enough to dedicate my weekend to it. If you enjoy a mystery with a wicked twist, this book should be high on your list.
Christian White made a guest appearance on DMZ during the #AuthorsForFireys fundraising challenge earlier this year, in the good old pre-pandemic days. – Editor.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Imprint: Affirm Press
Format: paperback, 353 pages
Reviewer Annabelle Lee
Annabelle Lee is a chronic book nerd who loves nothing more than a good story and some people to talk to about the story. Congratulations, you are now those people. Occasionally she puts down a book long enough to take care of her kids and even to write and illustrate some books of her own. You can find her horribly punny series of picture books for grown ups on Facebook and Instagram, or all good online bookstores.
DMZ discovered Annabelle Lee at Impact Comics’s festival where Annabelle showed us her hilarious adult picture books.