The Wife Between Us
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Length: 352 Pages
Published: January 9, 2018
Blurb via GoodReads:
A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.
Holy plot twist, Batman. This book was one twist after another, up until the very end, but a lot of the twists felt… underwhelming, particularly the one that comes at the very end. It added another dimension to the story that didn’t really add anything meaningful and tested the limits of my suspension of disbelief. The layers of deception in this book are seemingly endless.
This book is difficult to talk about without giving too much away; a lot depends on the reader going into the story knowing as little as possible and enjoying the plot twists as they unfold. This is one book that absolutely cannot survive spoilers. Suffice it to say that it vacillates between being a fun ride and throwing so many plots twists at the reader that half of them feel superfluous. The authors simply didn’t have sufficient time to develop all of the plot lines they tried to cram into this book. The end result feels a bit messy. Perhaps this is partially a product of two authors attempting to work together for the first time?
*Spoilers Ahead.* I’d like to explain in more detail why parts of this book fell flat for me; I don’t recommend proceeding unless you have already read the book.
The reader is meant to think that Vanessa is the ex wife and Nellie is her “replacement.” The first major twist was that Vanessa and Nellie are the same person, just before and after marriage to Richard. Nellie was a nickname Richard had for her. This was the twist that was most effective, in my opinion; I did not see this one coming. It was interesting and it made the reader look back on the passages they’ve already read in a new light. These things make for a good twist. Some reviewers thought the blurb made this twist too obvious; I’m inclined to agree, but I was lucky in that, due to long library hold times, I read the blurb and the book over a month apart, so it wasn’t fresh in my mind at the time.
However, a decent part of the “mystery” of this novel seems to be in unearthing what went wrong in Vanessa’s marriage with Richard. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of signs of abuse will see the red flags very early on in the book. Richard is fiercely controlling, albeit sometimes in the guise of “taking care” of Vanessa. The most extreme example of this is when he purchases a house shortly before the wedding without ever consulting Vanessa about it. Flowers are nice surprises; houses are not. This was something that obviously should have been a joint decision and it shows Richard’s failure Vanessa as an autonomous person who may want to have some say in where she’ll be living.
Richard’s sister, Maureen, has a weird obsession with him, probably of the incestuous variety. Vanessa doesn’t seem to pick up on this until very late in the story, and I’m not sure why it was included at all. Maybe it was meant to add to the “creep” factor of the story and help it live up to the “thriller” label, but it was so tangential to everything important to the actual plot that it felt very unnecessary and tacked on. I thought at one point they were trying to hint that Maureen was sabotaging Richard’s relationships out of jealousy, but Richard did a fine job of sabotaging those all on his own.
The final plot twist also felt superfluous to me. The revelation of Emma’s true identity was one twist too many and my suspension of disbelief snapped under the undue tension. The grudge she was holding and the things she was willing to do in order to get back at Vanessa felt completely out of proportion to Vanessa’s perceived “crime.” Sure, maybe Emma was simply meant to be a bit unbalanced, but Vanessa seems to be surrounded by unbalanced people; in the end, it feels like a lazy way of writing in some truly irrational behavior without having to bother to make it make sense.
The reviews on this book seem to be all over the place. Either you’ll love it to pieces or wonder if you’re really reading the same book everyone else seems to be raving about. Unfortunately, this one fell a bit flat for me. The intricate, tangled web the the authors were trying to weave for the reader just looked like… a mess.
Have you read The Wife Between Us? What were your thoughts? What’s the best thriller you’ve read lately?