REVIEW: The Widow by Fiona Barton

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: page-turning suspense, psychological thriller, modern police procedure

Quick Review: Suspenseful, fairly tight and intense – the deep examination of one couple’s lives and the lies they tell makes for a read that’s hard to put down.


With the death of her husband, Jean Taylor no longer needs to be the same woman who lied to the police for her husband for years. She’s ready to tell the whole story, but what really is the truth?

THE WIDOW is a psychological thriller that delves into the secrets and lies that can surround a couple – both the lies they tell the outside world, and the lies they tell each other. The piece is a stand-alone debut from Fiona Barton, and well worth a look.

The novel centres around the disappearance of a child, and the suspicion that Jean Taylor’s husband, Glen is somehow involved or responsible. Because of the nature of the story, the cast is small, the timeline is tight and limited, and trying to put all the pieces together really helps to pull you through the book.

The characters really drive this story, and Fiona Barton has managed to create in Jean a woman that is lying to everyone – often including herself – that is actually believable. Very often these conflicted characters are difficult to take seriously because they seem to be able to lie to themselves too easily. However, you can frequently see Jean convince herself of the “truth” of what she is saying; because you see the process of her internalizing the lies and secrets, you can actually watch as a reader as she gradually gets better at lying – and then has to work to fight her way back to the truth. Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes and journalist Kate are also quite likeable, and overall, the characters are strong and deep enough to support the level of scrutiny they are subjected to in this type of narrative.

And while the narrative device is not new, it is used to good effect in this instance. THE WIDOW features multiple converging timelines – the past mixed with the present progress together until the past fully informs what is happening in the present. The interesting thing in this case is that the timeline is shown from multiple different perspectives – the widow, the reporter, the detective – and so different bits and pieces of information are filled in different ways. The reader also gets to experience the conflicting stories that are told by characters, or by the same character, and it helps to pick apart the lies and help the reader discover the truth alongside the characters.

THE WIDOW is definitely worth a read; it was hard to put down once picked up, so expect to be there for a while! Although not perfect, it is a very good debut, and I am looking forward to reading more from Fiona Barton.

One thought on “REVIEW: The Widow by Fiona Barton

Leave a Reply