Michael Joseph | 2019 (ebook: 26 March; Hb: 2 May) | 448p | Review copy | Buy the book
Millicent and her husband, who remains nameless, appear the perfect yet ordinary couple. He is a successful tennis coach while she works in real estate. They have two children (Rory and Jenna), a lovely home and a good circle of friends. But both husband and wife realise that their marriage and life are in danger of becoming dull. That doesn’t matter, though, as they have the perfect way to spice it up.
Years ago the town was tormented by a serial killer called Owen. Women were afraid to go out. And now it looks as if he’s begun to kill again. Women are going missing. Jenna isn’t alone in being very frightened indeed. She needs her parents to make her feel safe. And they will do almost anything to do that.
My Lovely Wife is a fabulous novel – witty, sharp, shocking and outrageous. In my opinion, it triumphs many of the most well-known, best-seller psychological thrillers. It’s not only very well-written but its portrait of this marriage, presented from the point of view of the husband, is utterly compelling and astonishing. The opening chapter sets the scene brilliantly with the first of the novel’s whole load of jaw-dropping moments. And amidst the descriptions of suburban normality are moments that, for me at least, are completely horrifying. Perceptions of what is right and wrong are about to get bludgeoned. It will not be pretty. But it will be fascinating and I could not put My Lovely Wife down.
This isn’t a particularly easy book to review as I think it’s best if you come to it knowing the bare minimum. So, suffice to say that, in my opinion, Samantha Downing does not put a foot wrong. This is psychological thriller writing at its best. You may well have an idea of how it could pan out, especially if you’re read the genre before, but that doesn’t stop the shocks. In some ways, I feel that the book takes some quite familiar themes and then stretches them that little bit further, extracting their maximum impact.
Above all else, My Lovely Wife is such an entertaining and fun pageturner. I admire its wit and cleverness, its chilling portrayal of evil. I’d love to say more but I can’t! I think it’s best if you read it for yourself.