Monday, August 17, 2020

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Reviewed by Kristin

On the surface, Millicent and her husband have the perfect life. She’s a real estate broker, he’s a tennis pro, and they enjoy family breakfasts and dinners and weekly movie nights with their teenage children Rory and Jenna. Millicent would never dream of serving or eating anything so unhealthy as a hot dog or a soft drink. Organic food and plenty of exercise are much more the family’s speed. They live in an almost McMansion in a gated community called Hidden Oaks near Orlando, and are very well respected in the country club set. Most everyone likes them, except for, well, the women who Millicent and her husband stalk and kill.

The story is told by the husband, who is never actually named other than an alias or two that he uses while out scouting for women. The tale unfolds in layers with bits and pieces of their backstory being revealed as more women disappear. Millicent seems to be in charge of the whole enterprise, or is she?

Insights into their minds are offered by Nameless, but the whole thing kept me guessing. Was Millicent damaged as a child? What really happened to her sister? Is she a complete psychopath? Is he? Is he an unreliable narrator? What about the kids? Could Rory or Jenna be involved? Just how much does heredity shape your likelihood of being a troubled individual?

Downing’s debut novel is brilliantly crafted. The twists and turns in this story take you on a careening roller coaster ride, and likely will be enjoyed by any fans of recent psychological thrillers. The plot will give you delicious little shivers, interspersed with great shudders of horror and perhaps a few squawks of “WHAT?!” I just finished it this morning and have discovered that her new release He Started It came out a couple of weeks ago. I’m on hold waiting for our library copy to come back, and will dive in as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Author C.J. Tudor may have said it best in her blurb: “All hail the new Queen of the psycho thriller!!”

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