In Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow, the unimaginable is brought to life as we follow the lives of those involved in the case of missing child, Bella Elliott.
Barton’s detailed approach leaves no stone unturned. We witness this tragic story, told in past and present, through the eyes of all who are regretfully living the nightmare.
The widow, a.k.a Mrs Taylor, or Jeanie, as we come to know her, is a complex character who invokes pity, frustration and disbelief. Her somewhat Jekyll and Hyde nature echoes that of her husband, Glen, the main suspect in the case of missing child, Bella. It is only in the final stages of this story that their part in this tragic tale comes to light. Although I was still left contemplating the truth and the role they both played, given Jeanie’s convincing and contrasting performance as the widow.
What makes Barton’s novel so effective is the depth of character she manages to create amid this gut-wrenching theme. Understanding the role of each character and watching their experience unravel, gives Barton’s, The Widow, a documentary-like quality; each chapter offering up a new episode in this grim thriller. As a result, the reader can place themselves in the unenviable shoes of everyone from the widow, to highly committed D.I Sparkes and cutthroat reporter, Kate.
There are times when Bella’s case seems to lose its way, leaving D.I Sparkes, Bella’s mother, reporter Kate and the reader, wondering whether it will ever be resolved.
There is no escaping the mark this novel will leave. It may sound odd, but Barton’s written word somehow brings to life those all too familiar television news reports that frequent our screens.
The Widow, is already proving essential reading for 2016 and if you are looking for an addictive yet harrowing storyline, look no further.
The Widow is out now via Transworld Publishers.