We all know who he is, the man who is suspected of a terrible crime. The monster. But who is the woman who clings to him on the steps of the court? Jean Taylor’s life was wonderfully ordinary. Nice house, great job, handsome husband. Until her husband Glen became the man suspected of the crime. But now Glen is dead and free to tell her story. Jean Taylor is going to tell us everything she knows …
Jean Taylor has experienced a lot in the past. At the age of seventeen she lived with her controlling mother when she met Glen. Glen took over from mother and maintained it for years, until his death. He was a perfectionist, a control freak and previously worked at the bank where he thought himself indispensable. Jean, on the other hand, was sloppy, naive and docile. She worked as a hairdresser for many years. Jean was used to being subordinate to others, that’s just the way she was. She was submissive and obedient and Glen had found his dream wife. One who didn’t push her own opinion too much and did what was expected of her. Jean was a wallflower that did not understand what Glen saw in her. Despite her attitude, she realized that the mutual relationships were not completely in order. But as it often goes in relationships, life rippled past them. Glen must be satisfied with “a lesser job” and will deliver packages. When the two-year-old Bella Elliot disappears on his route, the police are quickly on the doorstep. Bob Sparkes intuitively feels that the couple’s statements are incorrect but cannot find any evidence. The press soon smells blood and penetrates the lives of Jean and Glen.
The story starts on June 9, 2010. From the perspectives of “The Widow” Jean, “The Reporter” Kate Waters, “The Detective” Bob Sparkes you go along in the story in the first instance. Periods jump and fill each other. Jean tells you, the reader, how her life was with Glen. That there were small cracks in the marriage due to the behavior of Glen. That she deliberately kept aloof from provoking a fight. Since Glen’s death, she has been lonely, he has only been dead for three weeks, it is getting used to having the house to himself. Jean regularly gets many journalists at the door with questions about the death of Glen. They smell blood and want answers. Before Glen died, they were also at the door for completely different reasons. That reason only becomes clear late in the story. There are some brief indications, but it only really becomes concrete later. Because the author uses flashbacks, the pieces of the puzzle gradually fall into place. It is not really surprising, although the final answer to the most pressing question “Why?” Is quite distressing. The only journalist who finally knows how to get through and get a story is Kate Waters, who works at the Daily Post. She knows how to respond to Jeans’ uncertainties in a very devious manner. She knows how to edit someone to get information where others can’t. Kate has her tactics. They never spoke with the press but withdrew into the safety of their own home. What did the two have to hide? Now that Kate seems to be taking care of Jean like that, Jean’s resistance drops like snow in the sun. She goes with Kate and starts talking.
The book is separate. In a positive way, yes. It somehow intrigues because it is hazy and mysterious. You do not know for a long time where it is going but you have your suspicion. What you are reading is that obsessive detective Bob Sparkes cannot let go of his work and is emotionally overweight. Journalist Kate Waters who gets stuck in her way in this case. On the one hand she has to because her boss is panting in her neck to perform but on the other hand she also wants to know what is going on and she does everything she can to find out. The press and media play an unusually large role in this book.
The writing style of Fiona Barton is pleasant and the book reads itself away quickly. But to be honest, the story continues a bit, just like the relationship between Glen and Jean, it doesn’t get really exciting. You keep reading because Barton knows how to fascinate, not knowing here is the binding factor. Quickly changing perspectives ensures a pleasant reading pace. Present and past complement each other seamlessly and increasingly give in to what has happened. More and more the author is working towards the plot that is quite predictable (from about half of the book) but still, that provocative, slow approach towards the end fascinates. You don’t get to know much about Glen and Jean is the main character in the story. The additions from the journalist and the detective, and later a number of people, are more than welcome because the content of the story fails to materialize.
With such stories, the fascination of not knowing is the reason to read it. Yet the story lacks a real bang, real excitement. The announcements around this book have created an expectation pattern that is not fully realized. It is a nicely written and certainly not a bad book, but the final bang is not forthcoming.