MysteryPeople Review: THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton’s debut domestic suspense novel, The Widowquickly attained bestseller status in the UK, and has now made its way overseas. Below, read event staffer and mystery enthusiast Meike Alana’s review. 

  • Review by Meike Alana

9781101990261Every marriage has its secrets.  Widow Jean Taylor knows all about that–she’s been keeping secrets throughout her 15-year marriage to husband Glen.  When he was accused of the abduction and presumed murder of 2-year-old Bella Elliott, Jean stood staunchly by Glen’s side, appearing to be the perfect supportive wife during the brutal police investigation and the unrelenting public scrutiny.  But the police weren’t able to obtain a conviction; Glen was released and returned home to Jean, and the couple struggled to regain a sense of normalcy.

But Glen is dead now–unexpectedly struck by a bus during a grocery shopping excursion—and Jean doesn’t have to keep secrets any more.  Does she perhaps know more than what came out during the investigation?  Newspaper reporter Kate Waters suspects as much, and hopes to learn more in an exclusive interview with the grieving widow.  Told in alternating first-and third-person narration, and jumping between the current aftermath of Glen’s death and the investigation into Bella’s disappearance 4 years prior, we slowly learn that Jean may have known more than she originally let on.

Debut novelist Fiona Barton is an experienced journalist in her native Great Britain—a former reporter and editor for the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, and the Mail on Sunday (where she won “Reporter of the Year” at the British Press Awards).  She relies on her experience in crime reporting — including child sexual abuse — in The Widow, which became wildly popular after publication in the United Kingdom, and was released in its US edition just last month. While comparisons to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train may be inevitable—all share a perhaps unreliable female narrator—The Widow deserves to stand on its own merits because of Barton’s outstanding writing.  The plot is complex, the pace of the novel is brisk, and the prose succinct.

You can find copies of Barton’s debut on our shelves and via

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