My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing is one of those unputdownable thrillers I can’t get enough of. The main character tells the whole story from his point of view, making him the focus, and yet making you question his reliability all the way through. It’s full of manipulation, deception and murder, all revolving around a seemingly perfect family unit. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing will be published by Michael Joseph Books on 2nd May, 2019.
A man and his wife, Millicent are quite the pair. With two children, good jobs and reputations, as well as a taste for murdering innocent women, they seem like the perfect couple. The main character (we don’t know his name) goes out and becomes his deaf alter ego, Tobias, in order to find information out about women and report back to his wife on which one they should kill. Disguising themselves as a historic serial killer, the two are getting away with their trysts, all whilst finding some sort of pleasure in all of it. However, their kids are less conniving. With their son learning about growing up, and their daughter seeing how final death can be all over the news, how will they conclude their epic tale?
What I liked about this book…
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing is a good thriller book because it has some tropes used very well; the unreliable narrator, the stalker tendencies and the eager and plucky detective seen on-screen. With a set-up similar to Gone Girl, yet with an eerie feel of Our Kind of Cruelty meets Dexter, it’s a highly intriguing story with many narrative devices to ensure the reader feels at home with the book.
The MC is a serious problem for me; I cannot like him, and yet I like the book more because I cannot like him. While he is spineless, needy and too trusting, he also plays the victim well in a way you would not detect easily. He makes the reader sympathise with him having a murderous wife, despite providing the women for her. I thought Downing did an excellent job of painting the picture of Millicent, and Jenna. Millicent comes across as the typical bored housewife who gets off on murder. Jenna is a daughter with the potential to be like her mother, but with the sense to know what’s wrong.
Downing presents a very nice father-daughter bone between the two, making him more wholesome, while the lack of mother-daughter scenes meant that Millicent was painted as the devil from the beginning. The story is well-plotted and I enjoyed the painfully slow police discoveries, and the hints dropped throughout (but I won’t say more).
The only thing I didn’t like is that Downing has a habit of telling rather than showing, which results in far too many descriptions of things and repetitive sentences about our MC’s thoughts and feelings. This slowed the pace down significantly at times for me.
Overall, this is a 4* read. I love serial killers; the Bonny and Clide vibe is intense and dramatic and I loved their interactions most. I would recommend this to people who enjoy thrillers set in domestic environments, including marriage and family. Be prepared to not like many of the key characters, but that’s the best bit. Oh and be prepared to squirm a little… Thank you Ellie Hughes for my proof copy of this suspenseful book in exchange for an honest review.