Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Pocket Wife

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
HarperCollins: 3/17/2015
eBook Review Copy, 320 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780062362858

A stylish psychological thriller.... in which a woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend.
Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor Celia is brutally murdered. To Dana’s horror, she was the last person to see Celia alive. Suffering from mania, the result of her bipolar disorder, she has troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death.
Her husband’s odd behavior and the probing of Detective Jack Moss create further complications as she searches for answers. The closer she comes to piecing together the shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?
A story of marriage, murder, and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge.

My Thoughts:

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford is a highly recommended psychological thriller. The suspense in this debut mystery novel is going to sneak up on you and become quite intense by the end.

After spending an afternoon drinking too much at a neighbor's house, Dana Catrell goes home and naps, only to wake up and discover her neighborhood, Celia Steinhauser, is now dead. Dana was the last known person to see Celia alive, but Dana can't remember much of what happened that afternoon. Between the alcohol and her worsening bi-polar disorder, for which she has stopped taking her meds, Dana is unsure of what is real and what is a by-product of her own psyche. Could she possibly have murdered Celia? She vaguely recalls an argument. She doesn't think she could possibly be capable of murder, but she can't be sure. And what happened to Celia's phone and the picture on it, of Dana's husband leering at another woman?

Detective Jack Moss is investigating, but he's got problems of his own. His second wife just left him. It looks like Dana is the most likely suspect, but Kyle, his son from his first marriage, might be involved with the case in some way. Celia was Kyle's GED teacher. Adding to the suspense is the increasing pressure to hurry and solve the case by the prosecutor's office. Chapters alternate between Dana and Jack. While Dana's mania is building and her thoughts are becoming more scattered, Jack is plodding forward with the case, dreading the clues that seem to point to some involvement by his son.

My appreciation of Crawford's  The Pocket Wife increased as I continued reading. Dana's mental state seems to make her an unreliable narrator, but one who also seems to have an acuity and awareness of what is going on around her. I knew she was heading toward a breakdown because she knows she is. Because of this, there is almost a surreal quality to what Dana sees and how she perceives it. Are the notes she finds real? Did she really see a figure in a hoodie? And is her husband really the total jerk he seems to be? (And he really is a complete jerk.)

The writing quality and descriptiveness is wonderful in this literary thriller. Crawford excels at setting the tone and pace, which helps to slowly build the suspense. This is a character driven mystery and the characters are all well developed, completely unique individuals. I found the conclusion to be satisfying.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.

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