“Barton carefully unspools this dark, intimate tale of a terrible crime, a stifling marriage, and the lies spouses tell not just to each other, but to themselves in order to make it through.”


After reading several recommendations, when I saw The Widow in the charity shop a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t resist. It’s billed as being like The Girl on the Train, it even says so on the cover and as that was a book I really enjoyed I was looking forward to another fast paced psychological thriller.

It was certainly a page-turner but not like The Girl on the Train particularly, I’m not sure why book sellers do that, but I enjoyed it all the same. It’s fast paced, with changing view points and character perspective for each chapter. You’ll also want to pay attention to the dates as it jumps around the timeline of events quite a bit.

I had a sense of ‘whodunit’ from the start, and while there were a few twists and turns, The Widow didn’t offer any big gasp moment. That isn’t a criticism, it was a lovely read and I was through it in a few nights, turning pages and devouring the story.

The Widow herself is really annoying, and follows the trend of realistic female characters we’ve been seeing recently. There’s been a bit of a backlash against these ‘broken women’ characters, but I protest that title, I feel that women have been misportrayed in literature for so long that when we’re presented with realistic female characters we’re not sure what to do.

The Widow is Fiona Barton’s debut novel, and while The Widow is unlikely to join the shelf with my cherished reads, it was fast paced, gritty and exciting enough that I’ll be looking for the next novel from this new author! An easy read, an exciting thriller, and a fun whodunit.


Reviewed by:

Kath Cross

Added 23rd August 2016

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Kath Cross


Whenever there is a high profile crime that beggars belief and the perpetrator appears to be some sort of inhumane monster, many thoughts often turn to the family, especially the partner. And questions are asked, such as: How could they not have known? Have they been covering for the criminal? Were they involved?

In this book we get to see the other side.

The widow is Jean Taylor. At first glance a meek, submissive woman dominated by her husband. But as her story goes on her layers are slowly exposed and we see she has many different aspects to her personality and she is as much in control as controlled.

It is quite difficult to believe that she is only 39 years old as she comes across as being much older than that. She talks about her husband’s ‘nonsense’, a phrase I would expect my grandmother to use.

Husband Glen has been accused of a terrible crime: the kidnap and possible murder of a two year old child. His character is very one dimensional, we only see him through Jean’s eyes, and it merely consists of him trying to persuade her that he didn’t do it.

Enter D. I. Bob Sparkes, a man whose life is deeply affected by this case. He is a good man that desperately wants to find the young girl; unfortunately this leads to some decisions that are no more than his heart ruling his head. To say that the police investigation was inept is an understatement of gigantic proportions. They follow false leads like a donkey follows a carrot.

Kate is the reporter who manages to get inside jean Taylor’s head. Fiona Barton does a great job of showing a different side to journalists. Yes, it is cut-throat, all of them trying to get the same exclusive, but they are also people and and not always the unfeeling beasts that they are made out to be.

Bella Elliott is the child who has been taken. If there is a problem with this book it is that Bella does not really have a part in the story, in that it’s all about the adults. The only way that Bella can affect us is through her name. Bella Elliott doesn’t roll off the tongue, it sits in your mouth, chewable, hard to swallow. This is the only connection we have with the lost child. Purposeful or co-incidence? I’m not sure, but it works.

I really enjoyed this book (if enjoy is the right word). It is a dark story full of mistrust, secrets and lies with frighteningly realistic characters; the very ordinariness of Jean Taylor is deeply disturbing.

I did guess part of the ending which must mean it’s quite obvious as I am a crime writer’s dream – never guessing anything. But all through the book I was never sure whether Glen Taylor had committed the crime or not. Never sure whether jean believed him or not. That’s what the book is about, the human psychology, what you know, how much your mind can be tricked. What you can live with. And it’s very good.


Reviewed by:

Sandra Foy, Urmston Bookshop

Added 11th February 2016

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Sandra Foy