Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: "The Wife" by Alafair Burke

It's been said the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. While this may not be a surprise to those who have read her work before, but as a first-time reader of Alafair Burke, I can definitely say that storytelling talent definitely runs in the family! (She is the daughter of one of my all-time favorite authors, James Lee Burke.) But the thing is, James Lee Burke never quite got my pulse pounding as hard as his daughter did in her new book, The Wife!

Angela Powell's husband Jason was quite the guy—smart, handsome, and successful; a best-selling author; a sought-after consultant; and a frequent expert seen on television programs. Ever since she met him when she was catering a high-end party in the Hamptons, he's always stood by her. Not many men would willingly start a relationship with a woman and her young son, but Jason was persistent, and within a year they were married, and she was able to leave her old life behind—which entailed many tragic secrets.

"We need an explanation, something to reassure us that the horrible things that happened to them could never happen to us."

As Jason's star rose, Angela stood beside him, always the dutiful, loving wife. She loved her husband, loved the life they had, even though his every foray into the public eye made Angela nervous that somehow she'd be dragged into it with him, that the careful façade she worked so hard to build might come tumbling down.

When Jason mentions that an intern at work is accusing him of inappropriate behavior, Angela finds it preposterous. If her husband is guilty of anything, it's being a little too handsome and smart at the same time, and maybe a little more flirtatious than is acceptable in the business world. But when a second woman, an executive for one of Jason's clients, steps forward with more serious allegations, Angela starts to wonder if her husband is telling the truth. Did Jason do what these women are accusing him of? If so, what will that mean for their marriage? Perhaps more importantly, what will it mean for her and her son?

As more evidence against Jason mounts, she still stands behind her husband. Perhaps he was unfaithful, and maybe she was in part to blame for some of his behavior, but she is unwilling to consider the ramifications of his guilt. However, she's decided to start taking a closer look at her husband, just be sure she isn't tying her own future to a liar. And when Jason's primary accuser goes missing, she doesn't know whether to feel relief or fear.

This plot summary just scratches the surface for fear of revealing any twists or surprises. Burke certainly has more than a few of those up her sleeve in this book. You may think you've seen all of this before, and perhaps you have, but not with Burke at the helm. She's a fantastic storyteller, leading you along and making you wonder if the story is going to follow the tried-and-true path, but all the while you're suspecting every character that makes an appearance. (Or maybe that's just me.)

I devoured this book in the matter of a few hours, and all the while I wondered why it's taken me so long to read Burke's books given how much of a fan I am of her father. Regardless, Burke is a writer all her own, deserving of praise on her own merits.

I fully anticipate this will be a popular vacation/beach read this year, because in addition to the requisite amount of suspense, and the he-said, she-said nature of some of the accusations, The Wife isn't a lightweight, throwaway book—it's one to wow you.

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