Sunday, May 12, 2019

Review: My Lovely Wife by Samatha Downing

My copy came from the library but if I'd purchased it based on the back cover text I'd be seriously upset. I realize this isn't the author's fault and the publisher is trying to attract readers but it calls My Lovely Wife, Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs Smith. This isn't remotely close to this book. For one thing, Dexter and Mr. and Mrs. Smith have humor. For another, the motivations in My Lovely Wife are nothing like the other two works. In fact. the protagonists here would be more likely to be victims of Dexter. Finally, I would challenge the notion that is a book about a husband and wife serial killer team spicing up a stale marriage. Yes, there are murders but underneath there is something entirely different going on.

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It looks like I'm blaming the author for the way the book is being hyped and that really isn't fair. Let me back off that and talk about the story itself which I would call less of a thriller and more of a study in psychopathy.

This is a first person narrative from the viewpoint of the unnamed husband. He is the tennis pro at a country club. He is really rather wishy-washy, pathetic, and mostly unquestioningly passive to his wife, Millicent. I couldn't work up any sympathy for him. Millicent is a rule setter, ruthlessly efficient, and has a core of steel. Honestly, though, her family rules are not all that oppressive which kind of defeats her ice queen appearance. Examples: the family will eat breakfast and dinner together, no electronics at the table, family movie night once a week. I'm sure some will think this is an appearance of normality that masks the psycho beneath and maybe that's what the author intended.  They have two children, son Rory and daughter Jenna. Of all the family, I found Jenna the most believable and relatable character. Now that I think about it, Jenna and Rory really step up when needed and I like that about them.

The story jumps around in time too much for my taste and this slows down the narrative pace. The pace picks up near the end but overall I felt I was plodding through the story and found myself skimming the pages. It takes the thrill out of thriller. I found the short sentences made the narrative too choppy for my taste. The much vaunted twist toward the end is interesting but not jaw-dropping as some reviewers have reported.

This isn't a terrible book but I would rate it only a 2.5 or perhaps a 3 tops. I intend to watch this author's future books. I think she is a good plotter even if I didn't care much for the execution of this one. This is a book that would do well as a film since it would be forced to tighten and trim the story to its essentials.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, as always, for your candor, Mack. I've been hearing about this one, both from those who loved it, and those who disliked it. It's interesting to get your take on it. And I couldn't possibly agree more on how annoying it is when a book is one thing (or at least tries to be one thing), and is hyped as something completely different. It makes it very hard to decide what one's going to read.


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