The Widow

by Fiona Barton

Penguin Canada | February 16, 2016 | Trade Paperback

A loving husband or a heartless killer…she’d know, wouldn’t she?

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with accusing glares and anonymous harassment. Now her husband is dead, and there’s no reason to stay quiet. People want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.
The truth–that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything. For the reporter who has secured the exclusive interview, this is the scoop of a lifetime. For the detective who has lived a half-life since he failed to get justice for the victim, it is a chance to get at the truth that has eluded him for so long. For Jean, it’s a chance to defend herself, what she knew–and when.
This is the tale of a missing child, narrated by the wife of the main suspect, the detective leading the hunt, and the journalist covering the case. It’s a brilliantly ominous, psychologically acute portrait of a marriage in crisis–perfect for fans of The Silent Wife and The Girl on the Train.

If Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train left you hungry for more unreliable narrators, Fiona Barton has you covered. Her novel, The Widow, out Feb. 16, follows Jean Taylor — widow of the late Glen Taylor, who was accused of, but never arrested for, kidnapping and murdering a 2-year-old child. When Glen is run over by a bus, the only person left who knows the truth is Jean… but is the truth what she’s telling to the press? Where do her loyalties lie?

EW reveals the book’s exclusive (and eerie) trailer, above, and a chilling excerpt, below:

CHAPTER SIX
The Widow

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More feet on the gravel. This time Kate’s phone rings twice and stops. Must be some sort of signal, because she immediately opens the front door and lets in a man with a big bag over his shoulder.

“This is Mick,” she says to me, “my photographer.”

Mick grins at me and sticks out his hand. “Hello, Mrs. Taylor,” he says. He’s come to pick us up and take us to a hotel “somewhere nice and quiet,” he says, and I begin to protest. Everything’s moving so fast.

“Wait a minute,” I say. But no one is listening.

Kate and Mick are discussing getting past the reporters who’ve gathered at the gate. The man from the telly must’ve told people I had someone in the house, and they’re taking turns knocking on the door and opening the letter box to shout to me.

It’s awful, like a nightmare. Like it was at the beginning.

Then they were shouting at Glen, accusing him of all sorts of things.

“What’ve you done, Mr. Taylor?” one shouted.

“Have you got blood on your hands, you pervert?” the man from the Sun had said as Glen took the bin out. Right in front of people walking by. Glen said one of them spat on the pavement.

He was shaking when he came in.

My poor Glen. But he had me to help him then—I would stroke his hand and tell him to pay no attention. But there’s just me now, and I don’t know if I can cope on my own.

A voice is yelling horrible things through the door: “I know you’re there, Mrs. Taylor. Are you being paid to talk? What do you think people will say if you take this blood money?”

I feel like I’ve been hit. And Kate turns and strokes my hand and tells me to ignore it. She can make it all go away.

I want to trust her, but it’s hard to think straight. What does making it all go away mean? Hiding has been the only way to deal with it, according to Glen.

“We have to wait it out,” he would say.

But Kate’s way is to go at it head-on. Stand up and say my piece to shut them up. I would like to shut them up, but it means being in the spotlight. The thought is so terrifying I can’t move.

“Come on, Jean,” Kate says, finally noticing me still sitting in the chair. “We can do this together. One step at a time. It’ll all be over in five minutes, and then no one will be able to find you.”

Apart from her, of course.

I know I can’t face more of the abuse from those animals outside, so I obediently start to get my stuff together. I pick up my handbag and stuff some knickers into it from the tumble drier in the kitchen. Upstairs to get my toothbrush. Where are my keys?

“Just the essentials,” Kate says. She will buy me anything I need when we get there. “Get where?” I want to ask, but Kate has turned away again. She’s busy on her mobile, talking to “the office.”

She has a different voice when she talks to the office. Tense. A bit breathless, like she’s just walked upstairs.

“Okay, Terry,” she says. “No. Jean is with us, so I’ll give you a call later.” She doesn’t want to talk in front of me. Wonder what the office wants to know. How much money she’s promised? What I will look like in the pictures?

I bet she wanted to say, “She’s a bit of a mess, but we can make her look presentable.” I feel panicky and go to say I’ve changed my mind, but everything’s moving too fast.

She says she’s going to distract them. She’ll go out the front door and pretend to get her car ready for us while Mick and I slip down the garden and over the fence at the back. I can’t really believe I’m doing this. I start to say “Hang on” again, but

Kate is pushing me toward the back door.

We wait while she goes out. The noise is suddenly deafening. Like a flock of birds taking off by my front door.

“Snappers,” Mick says. I guess he means photographers. Then he throws his jacket over my head, grabs my hand, and pulls me along behind him out the back door into the garden. I can’t see much because of the jacket, and I’ve got stupid shoes on. My feet are sliding out of them, but I try to run. This is ridiculous. The jacket keeps slipping off. Oh God, there’s Lisa next door, looking out of her top window, mouth open. I wave my hand limply. God knows why. We haven’t spoken for ages.

At the back fence, Mick helps me over. It’s not high, really. More for show than security. I’ve got trousers on, but it’s still a bit of a struggle. He’s parked his car around the corner, he says, and we creep slowly to the end of the alley behind the houses, in case one of the reporters is there. I suddenly want to cry. I’m about to get into a car with people I don’t know and head off to God knows where. It’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done.

Glen would’ve had a fit. Even before all the police stuff, he liked to keep things private. We lived in this house for years—all our married life—but, as the neighbors were only too glad to tell the press, we kept ourselves to ourselves. It’s what neighbors always say, isn’t it, when dead bodies or mistreated children are found next door? But in our case, it was true.

One of them—it could’ve been Mrs. Grange opposite—described Glen to a reporter, as having “evil eyes.” He had nice eyes, actually. Blue with longish lashes. Little-boy eyes. His eyes could turn me over inside.

Anyway, he used to say to me, “Nobody’s business but ours, Jeanie.” That was why it was so hard when our business became everyone else’s.

OVERVIEW

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

PRAISE

“If you liked Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, you might want to pick up The Widow by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful.”—Stephen King

“A twisted psychological thriller you’ll have trouble putting down.”—People 

“Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow, is being compared to Gone GirlBefore I Go To Sleep and The Girl on the Train. It’s actually better than them all.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“[A] twisty tale…with a mesmerizing if unreliable narrator…that will blow your mind.”—Oprah.com

“[Jean is] a fascinating puzzle…Barton knows how to ramp up tension.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[The Widow] will keep you in suspense late into the night.”—Good Housekeeping

“Barton skillfully weaves a tale that reminds us that yes, we can be deceived by others, but we can just as easily deceive ourselves.”—USA Today

“Both a taut reconstruction of a crime and a ruthless examination of marriage…A smartly crafted, compulsively readable tale about the lies people tell each other, and themselves, when the truth is the last thing they really want to know.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Barton’s writing is compelling and top-notch.”—The Associated Press

“[Barton] delivers the goods…Richly character-driven in a way that is both satisfying and engrossing.”—The Washington Post

Gone Girl fans will relish this taut, psychological thriller.”—US Weekly

“[Barton’s] journalistic eye is what makes this debut novel so assured and compelling.”—NPR.org

“The ultimate psychological thriller! Barton carefully unspools this dark, intimate tale of a terrible crime, a stifling marriage, and the lies spouses tell not just to each other, but to themselves in order to make it through.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn

The Widow never loses sight of the dark secrets that define ordinary lives, the gray areas where deception gives way to the truth. This is one book in which such subtleties matter as much as the plot.”—Chicago Tribune

“Every once in awhile, a suspense thriller comes along that grips readers and won’t let go….Joining that mini-library is The Widow by Fiona Barton, a thoroughly chilling novel with one of the most unreliable narrators in recent memory.”—The Sacramento Bee

“I read The Widow with an increasing sense that I was turning the pages through next year’s The Girl on the Train. It has all the ingredients for a bestseller—a clear proposition and a central premise that will stimulate word of mouth.”—The Bookseller (UK)

“A twisty psychological suspense that held me spellbound. Fiona Barton delves into the darkest reaches of the husband and wife relationship and the secrets they keep.”—Linda Castillo, New York Times bestselling author of After the Storm

 

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