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THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton: Book Review

The Taylors’ marriage had warning signs from the beginning.  When seventeen-year-old Jean met the slightly older, more sophisticated Glen Taylor, she was swept away.  Eventually he won over her parents, and two years later Jean and Glen were married.

They were happy, as long as Glen got to make all the decisions.  He called it being protective, choosing the seat for her at a bar, deciding on her meals so she could taste new things, explaining to her that their kitchen wasn’t quite clean enough.  And Jean wanted to please him, to make things good between them, so she agreed with his decisions and their marriage went along smoothly.

Then things start to go wrong.  Glen is let go from his position at the bank.  He tells Jean he was terminated because the management was downsizing and that he is going to start his own business, but Jean finds a letter from the bank with the words “unprofessional behavior,” “inappropriate,” and “termination forthwith.”  It’s the beginning of serious trouble for the couple.

Dawn Elliot is a single mother to two-year-old Bella.  And one afternoon Bella disappears from their front yard.  “But I was just trying to get her tea ready,” Dawn tells Detective Bob Sparkes.  “She was out of sight for only a minute.”  But that’s all it took for the toddler to disappear.

All of England is looking for Bella, with telephone calls and CCTV coverage constantly updating the police.  Then a tip comes in from a delivery van driver who works for the company where Glen Taylor is temporarily employed.  That driver gives the police the name of the driver who was scheduled to work in the area near Bella’s home on the day she went missing; that driver in turn tells them that he didn’t do the last run of the day but passed it along to Glen.

The Widow covers a period of more than three years in three voices:  Jean Taylor, Glen’s wife; Kate Waters, a reporter at the Daily Post; and Detective Bob Sparkes.  The reader will be carried along by the story, understanding the events as they are seen by these three people.  Jean, who is happily married to Glen until the police come to their house and question him about Bella’s disappearance; Kate, sympathizing with Jean while at the same time doing everything in her power to obtain the exclusive story of the Taylors’ marriage for her paper; Bob, whose obsession with Bella’s case nearly undermines his career.

The novel is as real as today’s headlines.  Each of the above characters, along with many others in the book, has his/her own agenda, and finding out the truth about the kidnapping isn’t always uppermost in each person’s mind.

Fiona Barton has written a gripping mystery, filled with insights into the minds of those who buy child pornography and the slippery slope to which it may lead.  You won’t forget The Widow in a hurry.

You can read more about Fiona Barton at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.


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