The Widow by Fiona Barton (New American Library, March 2016) is the kind of mystery I love to read. Told from alternating points of view, the reader has to piece together what happened the way police and reporters do from eye-witness interviews. Kate Waters, a Hampshire print journalist, is the first to get an in-depth interview with Jean Taylor, the notorious widow of Glen Taylor, a man everyone calls a monster. Jean, hidden from the press inside her own home, allows no one to enter after Glen dies. But resourceful Kate gets her foot in the door and befriends Jean. Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes is the copper who relentlessly investigates the disappearance of two-year-old Bella Elliott, taken from her Southampton home nearly half-a-decade ago. Sparkes works night and day for years to find Bella’s abductor. Eventually, enough evidence points to Glen Taylor as the man who kidnapped Bella that Sparkes arrests Glen. That’s when the tale takes a few twists and becomes really interesting.
Barton is such a good writer that she seamlessly pulls off multiple points of view and shifts from present to past tense without taking readers out of trance. Ripe with details, rich in dialog, The Widow is a character-driven novel that is also a suspenseful mystery from beginning to end. Very highly recommended.