Debut novel “My Lovely Wife” turns national thriller genre upside down
The anonymous narrator of “My Lovely Wife” has an ideal life. He and his wife Millicent have well-paying careers (he’s a tennis pro at the local country club and she’s a successful real estate agent) that allow them and their two children to live in the same affluent community where he grew up. Rory is fourteen and is an aspiring golf star and thirteen year old Jenna appears to be good at everything.
Like most Americans, they may be living just beyond their means, but overall they make the perfect family. The only thing that maybe sets them apart is what they do to spice up their marriage after more than a decade together… serial murder.
The first time, it was an accident. The second too. Besides, if they are only defending themselves and their families, who can blame them? But the third time? The third time, it’s the charm. It is planned and the victim is selected and taken care of. And now, Millicent can’t wait to find the next victim. But he wants to be sure they find the right woman. Millicent agrees, but not for the reasons he thinks. Because it turns out that Millicent is planning a lot more than he thinks.
This book is billed as a mix of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Dexter” and I think it delivers on what it promises. The combination of an ordinary suburban couple and a serial killer is an interesting fusion. I’ve never read a book where the serial killer worried about how his actions were affecting his children’s mental health. Or the one where he had to leave the body to be able to pick up his sick daughter from a slumber party. The recent wave of national thrillers have all tried to take the same formula as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and add something new to it. Some are successful and others can only try. My Lovely Wife takes the popular genre of the domestic thriller and turns it upside down. The reader already knows that it is the husband. The woman too. Because they kill together. I guess the couple who kill together stay together is their philosophy.
As a first-time novelist, Samantha Downing really takes him out of the park. I believe this book was chosen for theaters by Amazon and can’t wait to see it translated in theaters. Amazon has a pretty good track record when it comes to turning books into movies or series. Downing’s second book is “He Started It” and he has a great idea of family travel. His most recent book is “For Your Own Good” and I can’t wait to read it. Downing has a real talent for writing compelling books where the reader really doesn’t like any of the characters in the book but still can’t let go. The line between good guys and bad guys is blurry and in some cases non-existent.
“My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing is available from the Sterling Public Library and as a digital audiobook on OverDrive. “He Started It” is also available as a book in the library as well as on OverDrive as an eBook.
Erica Kallsen is a librarian at the Sterling Public Library.