From Mr. Bookdwarf: The Widow by Fiona Barton

The exonerated suspect in a notorious kidnapping case is suddenly dead. Journalists and police descend upon Joanie, his widow, to try to get her to share the real story behind what went on when 2-year-old Bella disappeared.

Fiona Barton’s The Widow is hard enough to put down that I missed my stop while reading it on the train. The unreliable narrators and creepy sex crimes are sure to earn it recommendations to anyone who liked The Girl on The Train, although it’s certainly not one of those “me too” novels snapped up to try and ride on its coattails.

The psychologically damaged Joanie is captivating as she slowly reveals her escape from her manipulative husband, but we particularly liked the the portrait of the tabloid journalist, who truly loves her subjects, even as she’s monetizing their tawdry stories. Barton’s experience in journalism is evident in her feel for human interactions and the slow build and missed directions of an investigation. I imagine a newspaper editor would fault her for burying the lede, but the fact that she saves the truly earth-shattering details for the end works to great effect in her novel.


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