Opening sentence: “She is looking at me.”
Set in Woodview, Florida we meet our lead character in a bar, he calls himself Tobias, says he’s deaf and goes home with a woman he has just met. He then goes back to where he lives and tells us, “At home, all is quiet. My wife, Millicent, is still in bed. I have been married to her for fifteen years, and she does not call me Tobias. We have two kids; Rory is fourteen, and Jenna is one year younger.” Naughty, naughty you may be thinking, and you’d be right. But infidelity isn’t the half of it…
My Lovely Wife is a psychological thriller that explores the themes of how much do you really know the person you are married to and how far would you actually go to please them – that one person you are completely in love with, devoted to. In this case, Millicent is the object of affection, “She is the woman I should not have been able to get.”
So, more about our narrator: He is not deaf and he is not called Tobias, but we never find out his name (I thought I had just missed it somewhere, but then saw a Q&A with the author on goodreads where she confirmed she never divulged his real name, mainly because she never gave him one!) Our unnamed narrator is a tennis coach in a luxury members club, he has a dry, sometimes clipped tone with a sarcastic tinge. (“I am hired by parents who believe their child is a prodigy, a champion, a future role model. So far, they have all been wrong.”) His voice sometimes has a weirdly stilted rhythm to it, but I liked this, it gave the read a distinct feel and (we soon discover) it fit his character as he is a bit of a weird guy.
Yes, he and his wife decide to keep their marriage fresh and exciting with a spot of murder. As you do. “‘Did I marry a psychopath?’ she said. I laughed. So did she.” He pretends to be Tobias to lure their latest victim. All is going swimmingly for them, until Millicent decides to up the stakes and bring another killer into the mix: Owen Oliver Riley. He’s a serial killer of legend in Woodview who, years ago, killed nine women, was captured, escaped and is now back… or is he?
Our narrator is a complex – and very intriguing – character. Despite his murderous pastime, he loves domestic life with his wife and two children and would do anything to protect that. He is not emotionless or apathetic and towards the end it almost feels like we are supposed to be sympathetic for his situation – but I wasn’t buying that, he has a pretty warped view of things. I don’t want to add any spoilers so won’t go into detail about the other characters, but they all felt rounded and played great roles in the story.
My Lovely Wife is a clever, fast-paced read with just the right amount of macabre, it planted seeds that pointed towards the ending but importantly managed to maintain its shock factor for those last few chapters. A deliciously dark thriller – perfect for your summer reading list.