My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Published by Michael Joseph, 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Sometimes, you want thought-provoking thematic depth, and sometimes, you just want a good story that sees you flying through the pages. The next time you’re in the mood for the latter, you could do a lot worse than My Lovely Wife.
This well-plotted and deliciously dark thriller isn’t a whodunnit. On the contrary, we know from the off that the unnamed protagonist and his wife have been literally getting away with murder for quite some time. As such, it’s never about who is committing these awful crimes, but why, and if and how they will get away with it. Putting us inside the mind of a serial killer not only makes us constantly question our narrator’s reliability, but it allows Downing to pose interesting questions about our own moral compasses. Though he is undoubtedly a horrible human being, he shows himself to be surprisingly remorseful at times, and genuinely caring towards his teenage children. Emerging as the lesser of two evils when held up against his wife, some may find themselves sympathising with or even rooting for him, leaving us – the reader – in a bizarre moral quandary.
I loved the way this dynamic advanced throughout the story. The more complex the characters’ web of secrets and lies became in order to cover their tracks, the more the ripple effects began to impact those closest to them – their children, their friends, and their community. Watching their disparate reactions to this, and once again asking us to consider if there is some kind of ‘scale’ of badness, was a unique and refreshing angle from which to approach a thriller.
With such a melodramatic setup – a husband and wife committing a spate of murders whilst trying to uphold their domestic obligations – there’s a slight suspension of disbelief required. The readable prose and well-placed twists keep everything moving at a great pace, however, meaning I was more than willing to submit myself to the story and enjoy it at face value. I would definitely read more from this author.
If you’d like to give My Lovely Wife a go, you can pick up a copy from Book Depository by clicking here. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!