Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Starter Wife

The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin
Grand Central Publishing: 6/11/19
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9781538715710

The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin is a highly recommended psychological thriller.

Claire is the younger second wife of Byron Westcott, a professor of literature at Ohio’s Mansfield College. They have been married for two years and Claire is happy, but it seems like Byron is becoming more distant. Byron's first wife, painter Colleen May, also a Mansfield professor, committed suicide five years before, but her body was never found. Now Claire is beginning to wonder what really happened to Colleen, especially when she receives a phone call from a woman she is sure is Colleen.

Claire is the narrator of this riveting, dark, tension-filled psychological thriller, but there is a second narrative voice that belongs to an unnamed woman who may be stalking Claire and out to destroy her. The unnamed stalker is obsessed with Byron and wants Claire out of the way. Could it be Colleen? Claire begins to investigate her death and Byron's past, while at the same time suffering from unexplained illnesses. Did Byron kill Colleen and is he now out to eliminate Claire?

While you won't necessarily like Claire, the suspense escalates with the second narrator who seems to be out to get Claire. Byron may also be a part of the scheme. It is a trend now to have unlikeable female narrators and, while this follows along that well-traveled path, the ending was a totally surprising twist. The Starter Wife is a novel that you have to wait until the final third of the book for some shocking and surprising incidents.

It is not until the end that I found myself admiring the skillful writing, the intricate plot, and the excellent character development. I thought I knew what was going on and where the story was headed, which is exactly the way I imagine Laurin planned out her novel. Well played Nina Laurin; I was totally surprised and caught unaware.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

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