My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Blurbs. You gotta love ‘em. Or not. In the case of The Wife Between Us, most of its blurbs appear to have been dashed off by other writers based upon limited knowledge of what’s actually going on in this book. Famous novelists are constantly hit up for this sort of thing; must be a pain. Anyhow, The Wife Between Us is a generic novel piggy-backing on the success of the original blockbuster, Gone Girl. Perhaps had I read Wife before Gone, I’d have experienced it differently. Probably not, though, because while the publicity promises “fiendish” thrills, twists, and chills,the narrative generates very little suspense. Curiosity, yes, confusion, yes, twists, yes, but suspense, nada.
On the positive side, the prose is competent and the plot, though not original, and is repetitive in many places, is cohesive. The female characters are relatable, and Richard’s behavior as a narcissist and a bully with a serious personality disorder is spot on, though Vanessa’s friends, and indeed, the reader notice that he has some serious issues long before either his ex or his fiancée. Emma shows more backbone than Vanessa/Nellie does, until the very end, but I didn’t really care for either of them, weak and manipulative as they are in their own right. The Vanessa/Nellie meme fails as a literary device; many reviewers, even some pros, think the fiancée’s name is Nellie, not Emma. (Richard calls Vanessa his “sweet Nellie”, a nickname she abhors yet never asks him to stop.)
All in all, The Wife Between Us cogently depicts a mental illness, a marriage in ruins, and a wife nearly destroyed by it, but it’s no thriller. I’d like to read Hendricks and Pekkanen in some other, less overworked genre.