The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
This book engages you from page one, which is really not the beginning of the book, it’s only the prologue.
“The street is loud and busy, with yellow cabs racing by, commuters returning from work, and shoppers entering the deli on the corner. But my eyes never stray from her.
She pauses in her entryway and briefly glances back over her shoulder. An electrical charge seems to pulse through me.”
And farther on:
“She’s oblivious to what I have done to her.”
“She is unaware of the damage I have wrought; the ruin I have set in motion.”
And right away you wonder, who is who in this drama, this mystery, this psychological thriller? The characters are sharply drawn, yet distantly indistinct.
Who is following whom and why are the players first one name and then another, with the time sequences a puzzle of inconsistencies?
The people are New Yorkers, politically correct, shallow enough to be oh-so-sensitive and they attach importance to the most remarkably unremarkable bits of clothing and jewelry and shifts of weather and scents. The details are held up and examined.
But even as unsympathetic as the characters are, I kept reading. Why? It’s like a baseball smashing through your window. All you really need to do is clean up the glass and have the windowpane replaced, right? For humans, that’s not nearly enough. We want to know the whole flipping story! Whose ball is it? And most of all, who’s the bastard who didn’t fess up?
I readily admit that normally after a first few pages of a book like this, I would have slammed it closed and tossed it across the room, irate that the author(s) had wasted my time.
But, instead I read on. I had to face it, that I was in some inner way thrilled by the exacting perversity of people I wouldn’t have spent five minutes alone with. They seem normal, yet creepy. The kind of people who may speak kindly and be impeccably dressed, yet you wouldn’t be surprised to find them drinking directly from a fifty dollar bottle of wine, while they used pliers to pinch the heads off rats.
Want to find a character to like? Look somewhere else. These folks seem to all have secrets you may not want to know about. But, I’m curious. Always. Did curiosity really kill the cat! Nine freaking times? How about dogs? Does curiosity kill them too?
Along the way, the plot comes together. But, maybe not. Maybe it’s unraveling. You find yourself saying , “Ah, now I’ve got it.” NO, you don’t. Shreds of evidence are starting to feel like splinters embedded in your fingertips.
I turned pages faster than a mother of triplets changes diapers. And, the last two or three dozen pages were a breathless sprint!
I found myself thinking, I really do not like these characters! Maybe I kept reading because I like revenge, or maybe I’m just a curious cat.