MINM Book Review: The Wife by Alafair Burke

The Wife by Alafair Burke is an absolutely addictive crime novel that couldn’t be more timely, or more fraught, as it explores important questions, and conversations that are currently taking place in the popular culture about the presumption of innocence and the presumption of truth, especially in the age of social media. The Wife examines the awful power of secrets that often leave lasting, psychological scars that reverberate throughout lives.

When we are first introduced to Angela, the main character of the book, she is being informally interviewed by NYPD-Special Victims Unit detective Corrine Duncan, who is investigating accusations of sexual misconduct against Angela’s husband of six years, Jason Powell. Detective Duncan says to Angela,

How well do you really know your husband, Angela? You’re more than a bystander. You’re enabling him. Which means I can’t help you.

Don’t let Jason take you and your boy down with him.

The reader is left to question whether or not Angela is covering up for an indiscretion, or worse, by her husband.

I have had a long-standing fascination with how people’s lives and careers are effected, and often upended, when their partners or spouses are accused of sexual misconduct. Do they ask their partners questions about the accusations? Do they not want to hear the answers because they suspect that the accusations may be true? Do they never ask questions because of legal reasons? Or, are they so certain of their partners’ innocence, that they protect them? This is the jumping off point for The Wife.

Angela becomes drawn into the accusations against her husband for reasons that go far beyond the obvious, having to do with her own past. Along the way, there are ingredients in the book of both domestic and psychological suspense, as well as police procedure. The author’s professional experience as a law professor and former prosecutor is evident as the reader is privy to not only communications between Corrine Duncan and Assistant District Attorney Brian King, as they discuss potentially bringing a criminal case against Jason Powell, but also to the strategy of defense attorney Olivia Randall, who featured in Ms. Burke’s Edgar-nominated, previous novel, The Ex.

This layered, well-plotted, richly-characterized story sucked me in from the beginning, and called my name whenever I was unable to listen to Xe Sands’ engrossing audio book narration! The Wife ramps up to a twist-upon-twist crescendo, and, ultimately, finishes with an ending that will haunt readers, long after the final sentence. The Wife has been added to my list of Mystery in Minutes favorites for 2018! Author Alafair Burke has a new fan!

Adaptation News:

Amazon Studios has acquired the rights to Ms. Burke’s book, The Wife, with the author set to write the feature script!! #ReadItBeforeYouSeeIt

The Wife by Alafair Burke book cover image.jpg

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy reading psychological suspense.

  • Who enjoy reading novels of domestic suspense, particularly those pertaining to a marriage.

  • Who appreciate courtroom dramas, and legal thrillers and mysteries.

  • Who are intrigued by unreliable narrators.

  • Who enjoy reading police procedurals.

  • Who are interested in the #MeToo movement and related movements and discussions.

    Pages: 340 (Hardcover)

    Length: 8 Hrs. 9 Mins.

Publisher’s Blurb:

His scandal. Her secret.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

Read What Some Others Are Saying About The Wife:

“Written by a former prosecutor with a genius for plot, this thrill ride of a novel takes a hard look at loyalty and the violence a secret can cause—especially when that secret involves a revered public figure accused of rape.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

“This might be the most gripping, insightful work from the best-selling author Alafair Burke yet. She poses a seemingly impossible, if undeniably compelling, challenge: a woman must either save her life or defend her husband, but not both.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Alafair Burke has become a virtuoso of this popular subgenre in the mystery, one forged on the tropes of Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” and “Notorious,” where marriages are suspect and spouses are suspicious.  . . . Burke is a smart and entertaining writer, and her novels frequently capture the zeitgeist of our times in perceptive and page-turning ways (sexual harassment is at core of this one).” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

If you liked Gone Girl, Girl on the Train (don’t get me started on books with GIRL in the title; they’re WOMEN!!!), Burke has become a virtuoso of this popular subgenre in the mystery (untrustworthy narrators and suspicious marriages) . . .  Burke is a smart and entertaining writer. You’ll get sucked into this one.” —The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

“Burke’s knowledge of criminal law and police procedures shines in this tangled plot with an unreliable narrator. Is anyone whom they seem to be?  Verdict: Edgar-nominated Burke (The Ex) has written a timely, riveting, and deeply resonant psychological suspense novel focused on sexual harassment and varying degrees of assault in both domestic and workplace settings. Fans of Linda Fairstein will devour this.” —Library Journal

“With plot twists and turns to the very end, this is a tantalizing follow-up to The Ex that will keep pages turning.” —Booklist

“[A] page-turner…. Classic domestic-thriller elements—the too-perfect couple, the unreliable narrator, the troubled past—are given a good workout in this satisfying round of ‘Who’s the Psycho?’” —Kirkus Reviews

“[A] roller-coaster of a domestic thriller.” —Publishers Weekly

“A subtly sneaky, emotionally complex, and utterly addictive novel of psychological suspense, The Wife delivers on all fronts. Burke always comes through with twisty plots and strong female characters, but she’s at the top of her game here.” —Lisa Scottoline, author of Exposed

“An intriguing, twisty psychological thriller, The Wife had me tearing through the pages, never sure which characters to trust. Smart, suspenseful, and absolutely riveting.” —Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls

“Alafair Burke always delivers. The Wife is a timely, gracefully written exploration of family, crime, and the current media-soaked, celebrity-obsessed, smartphone-crazed moment. Highly recommended.” —William Landay, author of Defending Jacob

MINM Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Look for my Halloween season book review, coming soon!

Laura, Mystery in Minutes