The New Wife
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
When Sam Moore married his childhood sweetheart Lauren Jackson at a beautiful ceremony on a glorious day in May, he had no idea that in three months’ time she would be dead and he would be under suspicion for her murder.
Sam and Lauren met on the first day of nursery when Sam took the hand of the crying little girl clinging to her mother and led her off to play. Since then, they had been inseparable through school and university and both families could not be more pleased that they were getting married and planning their lives together. Although Sam’s family consisted only of his single mother Georgie, who divorced her abusive husband when Sam was young, they had both long since been adopted as part of Lauren’s extended family. Lauren’s parents Tim and Helen were warm and welcoming and together with Lauren, her younger sister Kate and often her best friend Sadie, they would celebrate family events and even all go on vacation together.
After studying environmental science at university Sam found his dream job as an environmental officer for Dartmoor National Park, while Lauren is a junior doctor who has never lost her love of social life and parties. Sam is less outgoing and prefers a quieter life, saving his money to pay the mortgage of a cottage on the edge of Dartmoor. Although it had always been Sam’s dream to live near the moor, where he could be totally surrounded by nature, Georgie was concerned that Lauren would find the peace and isolation of the cottage too lonely, and soon get tired of the forty-five-minute drive to work.
This slow burn of a psychological suspense will keep you guessing, as your suspicions of who killed Lauren switch from one person to another. Georgie is the narrator and since she is convinced that Sam would never have killed Lauren, she plays amateur detective, snooping around their cottage and questioning their friends and family members. However, as all the events and characters seen through her eyes are coloured by her feelings and perceptions. Georgie might think that she has had decades to get to know Lauren and her family really well, but everyone has flaws and secrets they have kept hidden and some relationships are not what they seem.
The location of the cottage on the edge of a dark and lonely moor makes for an atmospheric location and adds to the tension as twists, red herrings and startling revelations ramp up the suspense. The ending is totally unexpected and guaranteed to surprise you, unless you picked up the few tiny hints along the way. A perfectly paced addictive read that will find a place on many a crime shelf.
With thanks to Bookouture via Netgalley for a copy to read. Published November 19, 2021.