Book Review: The Innocent Wife
I am such a sucker for a good psychological thriller so I totally jumped at the chance to read The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd (published at the end of December) because wow, how many boxes did that blurb tick for me? A Death Row killer, the English schoolteacher who falls in love with him, the Making the Murderer style documentary that leads to his release, the realisation after the fact that maybe he’s not as innocent as he seems. SO MANY BOXES.
This was a book with so much potential and actually I kind of want to preface this review with the statement that I am SO HARD TO PLEASE when it comes to thrillers. I always, quite without meaning to, have the highest expectations and rarely are they met. I just want to say that.
I liked this book though, I did, and I flew through it. It had a lot of what I like – particularly the letters between Dennis (death row) and Samantha (teacher) because GIVE ME ALL THE EPISTOLARY STORIES PLEASE – although, instalove? They were dropping the L-bomb after approx. 2 letters and any frequent reader of this blog will know that’s not my thing. I mean perhaps Dennis you can kind of understand – he’s been in prison his entire adult life and is probably a little love-starved. Samantha though, the speed in which she was prepared to throw her life away for this man who she knows only from a couple of letters and what she’s read on the internet, it terrified me a little, which I think was kind of the point and if so was very well executed. Kudos, Amy Lloyd.
Also, Samantha, come on. Please don’t pack up your whole entire life and move all the way across the world for some dude you’ve written to a handful of times. I would say this was an example of bad choices even if he wasn’t a convicted child killer but LOOK AT THE FORESHADOWING HERE – he’s on DEATH ROW, it’s very likely not going to end well.
The story was solid but the pacing was iffy – some parts felt like they were on fast forward a little, I felt like we spent a little too much time hanging out in hotel rooms after Dennis’s release, with him being a bit of a dick and disappearing and Samantha being a bit lost then rushed through the actual thing that mattered, like everything from the arrival at Dennis’s hometown and once things got moving I figured the whole thing out pretty quickly so for me the ending felt rushed – like I said though, I am really hard to please and actually, the actual ending-ending was satisfying because anything else? Well actually I can’t think of anything else – it kind of had to end the way that it did. I also think that the ending is the weakest part of a lot of thrillers, mostly because the whole rest of the book is all suspense and twists and turns and keeping you gripped and the end is the tying up of the lose ends and it’s hard to keep that momentum going I guess?
I did find it hard to put down, and was itching to get back to it every time I had to go and do the living of my real life which is always the best of signs don’t you think, especially when I don’t think I actually liked any of the characters; I mean, that is a sign of a good story, right? To make me want to keep reading about people who annoy the hell out of me (if anybody else has read this and was as irritated by Samantha as I was then PLEASE LET ME KNOW). Samantha had her own little side mystery going on also, which was neat although the nosy part of me would have liked to have delved deeper into that. I always want MORE, I’m such a glutton for the words. Samantha whilst annoying was also fascinating – such an unreliable narrator which was fab because the whole story is her version of the story, you spend the whole book inside her head and when you’re not sure how much of what she’s saying you can trust, it makes for pretty interesting ride.
TL;DR: this is not the best thriller I have ever read but it’s such a long way from being the worst. It’s a good read, it’s worth picking up and is a pretty solid debut. If Amy writes anything else then probably I’ll read it.