The New Wife by Sue Watson

My darling son, Sam, is marrying his childhood sweetheart and I couldn’t be prouder of the man he’s grown into. Walking out on his abusive father all those years ago was the best thing I ever did. And today he stands, tall and handsome, saying ‘I do’ to my dream daughter-in-law. If I hadn’t pushed them together all those years ago, he might never have found a girl as perfect as Lauren. It’s true what they say, mother always knows best.

But weeks later, Lauren is dead and police cars fill the driveway of their idyllic countryside home. As they question Sam, I sense he’s hiding something. Why won’t he look me in the eye? And who does he rush off to meet as soon as the police are gone?

Desperate, I do what every good mother would do: I let myself into Sam and Lauren’s bedroom. What I see, I will never be able to forget. My son’s beautiful new wife was hiding a dangerous secret. Can I clear my son’s name? And could my life be in danger now too?

Thoughts

The Jackson and Moore families come together to celebrate the marriage of their respective children but their happiness is short-lived when the bride, Lauren, dies three months later and the police launch a murder investigation. The nightmare continues for Georgie Moore when her son is arrested and the evidence seems to support his guilt. Yet Sam maintains he is innocent and Georgie is determined to prove someone else killed Lauren.

Sam and Lauren have known each other since kindergarten and the two families lives have become increasingly intertwined over the years as it became obvious their children would marry one day. For Georgie, a single mother who has escaped domestic abuse, the Jacksons seemed to be the perfect family, however Lauren’s death tears them apart and Georgie is shocked to realise she never really knew them at all. Determined to clear her son’s name, Georgie begins her own investigation but she could end up doing more harm than good.

The New Wife is entirely narrated by Georgie so our impressions of the other characters and the events that take place are all coloured by her perceptions which prove to be ultimately inaccurate. Georgie is a likeable narrator and you sympathise with her genuine distress when she starts to realise the people she considers her family are not what they seem. Georgie is dismayed when the Jacksons start to push her away but she is even more shocked by how quickly their lives disintegrate after the death of their eldest daughter. Helen Jackson, once so groomed and elegant, is spending most of her days in an alcoholic stupor while verbally abusing her husband. Tim Jackson, a retired police officer, feels powerless because he is desperate to keep his family together and to be be part of the investigation but is being shut out of both. And youngest daughter, Kate, doesn’t know what to do with the family secrets she holds close to her chest.

There are a lot twists and turns but there is an air of inevitability about the storyline as it becomes increasingly predictable. The blurb doesn’t help because it sets you up for something you don’t really get. Georgie doesn’t find anything remotely compromising in her son and daughter-in-law’s bedroom other than a smashed photo and Lauren’s crumpled wedding dress with a blood stain which prove to be a red herring. As Georgie convinces herself she knows the real culprit, she is quickly proven to be wrong and the plot keeps going around in circles to the extent it is more irritating than exciting.

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