Despite my best efforts, once in a while I end up with a book that (unbeknownst to me) is part of a series. Such was the case with The Stranger’s Wife. Neither the book summary nor the cover gives any indication of it, but this is the third book in the Detective Dan Riley series. I wish I’d known that before I started reading it. Even though this book seems to have more of a standalone feel, I still know things I wouldn’t have known if I’d read the previous books first—which is precisely why I try to avoid reading a series out of order.
That said… how did it affect my reading experience?
Luckily, the story focuses on Beth and Cath, with the detective and his colleagues playing relatively minor roles. I’m sure this is why the blurb makes no mention of anyone but them. It’s the complete opposite of the crime thrillers I typically read, which occasionally made me wonder where the story would lead. The suspense centered in other factors that, typically, the reader wouldn’t be privy to, though the possibilities were limited.
Beth and Cath were fascinating characters. Though their lives were vastly different, both woman are unlucky in love, married to men who are anything but the great guys they appeared to be when they first met. Instead, the women were given emotional or physical abuse, and they both want out. Neither one of them will be allowed to simply walk away, however, so the question is: how will they break free?
The way that question was answered didn’t surprise me, because something I read in the book reminded me of… something. I won’t say what, because it would likely put potential readers onto the same line of thought I had. Suffice to say that this thought led me directly where things were going, and the thing that happened wasn’t the big surprise it might have been… which was a bummer, because it would’ve been nice to be surprised.
That’s where Detective Dan elbowed his way into the spotlight, and saved this reader from total disappointment. His story shined brighter from here on out, and I became most intrigued with how he was going to work things out, despite a troubling source of interference.
As the end neared in this unorthodox thriller, there was a matter I felt warranted a single resolution, and no other outcome have felt appropriate. There was some tension surrounding it, and I wasn’t 100% certain it would go the way I hoped or not… but it did, and the revelation came in a most fitting manner. Well done!
One thing remained a constant: I thoroughly appreciated Weatherley’s writing ability throughout the book. All the characters—major, minor, or otherwise—remained true to themselves at all times. They each had a distinctive voice, and if I ever inadvertently missed who was speaking at any given time, I was never confused precisely because of that distinctiveness. These aren’t little things, they are big, important things that change your perception of a book when it’s done poorly. Equally well done were the disparate living accommodations of Beth and Cath. It drove home the inequalities the women faced materially, illustrating beautifully that any woman, regardless of means, can find herself in an abusive relationship—a crucial fact that, it seems, is not always understood.
Despite some misgivings along the way, if this book convinced me of anything, it’s that I would enjoy reading more about Detective Dan Riley. While it’s true that I know a couple of things that are spoilers about this character’s personal life, I feel absolutely confident that I can read the previous books in this series with full enjoyment. Nothing whatsoever is mentioned in this book about crimes he investigated in the previous titles, so it all remains a mystery. Having just peaked at the blurbs for Black Heart and The Couple on Cedar Close, I’m more than a little intrigued to find out what happens in these books!
Based on the strength of Weatherley’s writing, as well as the fact that this book can be read as a standalone novel despite being part of a series, I’m bumping my initial rating of three stars up to four stars.
About the Book
Beth and Cath are leaving their husbands.
This is a story about two very different women.
One is wealthy and having an affair with a man who gives her the kind of love that her cold, detached husband does not.
One is living hand to mouth, suffering at the hands of a violent partner who would rather see her dead than leave him.
You may think you know these women already and how their lives will unfold.
Beth will live happily ever after with her little girl and her soulmate.
Cath will go back to her abusive husband.
And these two women will never cross paths.
But you will be wrong.
On the 3.15pm train from London to Bristol, Beth and Cath are about to meet and discover they share one shocking thing in common.
A clever, engrossing and absolutely unputdownable page-turner of a read about what really lies beneath the surface of a marriage. Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will be hooked on The Stranger’s Wife.
About the Author
ANNA-LOU WEATHERLEY began her career as a dancer but a moped accident in Ibiza put paid to those aspirations and so she went back to her first and one true love – writing! She re-trained as a journalist, specialising mainly in women’s interest and celebrity, becoming the Editor of J-17 and Smash Hits as well as writing for a host of women’s magazines. Anna-Lou has written three Adult Fiction titles – Vengeful Wives and Wicked Wives, both published by Avon in the UK and Bookouture in the US and Canada and Pleasure Island published by Bookouture.