By Alafair Burke
It seems like the ideal marriage. Success, handsome financial genius who vets companies serving the most disadvantaged in the world and who espouses a business philosophy of success through equality. An attractive wife, a once successful caterer out on the Island, who now prefers life at home caring for her husband and their son. Even, yet, an actual house with a yard and garage in Manhattan. What could possibly be more perfect … in fact, the perfect lie?
Angela is married to Jason, who by all accounts seems like the perfect catch: rich and getting richer doing so by ensuring others in business do the good they promise; a man who married her though she had a child, Spencer; a man who married her though she brought something of a painful past to their marriage. Angela is happiest keeping a low profile, done in defense of her past that involved kidnapping, sexual abuse, and worse. So, she’s not entirely pleased when Jason, founder of his own company, prof at NYU, author of a New York Times bestselling non-fiction blockbuster, manages to turn the spotlight on himself. Then, one day Jason drops what at first is a firecracker. A young intern, Rachel, at his firm, also a student of his at NYU, accuses him of inappropriate behavior toward him. Jason professes innocence, which turns into, well, maybe I did something and didn’t realize it, which morphs into, perhaps I was caught in my underwear by her while dressing in my office. Angela wants badly to believe in him, wants it so badly she’s willing to throw up reasons on his behalf while suppressing her doubts.
Then Kerry steps forward to bring charges against Jason for rape. Kerry’s a VP at a firm engaged in water projects in underdeveloped countries. Jason defends himself to Angela by claiming that Kerry’s company is guilty of nefarious practices, billing for services not rendered, that he was working with her to bring to light, that somehow she has turned on him. In others words, it’s all just bad business. And still Angela wants to believe, but finds it harder to do so, and finally impossible when a startling revelation about Kerry and Jason reach her ears and pierce her heart. Then inappropriate sexual conduct and rape devolve into murder when Kerry turns up dead. By this time, NYPD detective Corrine’s interest becomes ever more intense as she tries to unravel the sexual and homicidal crimes.
Alafair Burke has quite the credentials: daughter of James Lee Burke, former prosecutor, currently a professor of law, and the author of several crime novel series. Add for good measure, her undergraduate major was psychology. She brings all these to bear in The Wife, a real page turner most readers will find quite satisfying. She feeds readers information slowly and evaluates the various bits though the eyes of Jason, Corrine, and Angela. She gives only Angela her own voice in first person, thus the title, and readers will be justified in wondering why. She tosses in plenty of red herrings to misdirect your attention and allay your ever increasing suspicions until the end. That ending smacks of a sequel to follow. The writing is serviceable. If this were summer, it would be the book to carry to the beach. w/c