The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I have a poor track record when it comes to reading thrillers. Mostly because they’re simply not thrilling – I either spend time guessing what has happened and then watching it unfold (The Girl on the Train) or thinking “This is just far-fetched stupidity” (Gone Girl). So how did the bestseller, The Wife Between Us, hold up? Very, very well.
The blurb outlines a story about a jealous ex-wife and her beautiful, young ‘replacement’. At a glance, it’s a plot that’s the bread-and-butter of thriller writers. However, the authors have added some very clever subplots that will have you reassessing the characters as the story unfolds.
This book made me gasp in surprise, but only twice. That’s important because twists and turns on every third page has me filing thrillers under “This is just far-fetched stupidity”. Instead, every detail in this story has been meticulously planned by the authors and the ending is immensely satisfying.
Wimmera by Mark Brandi
(to be published as Into the River in the US, September 2019)
Set in 1989, in rural Victoria, best friends Ben and Fab spend their days yabbying, playing cricket and wishing for the latest sneakers. What’s not talked about is the presence of domestic violence or the fact that a newcomer to town frightens both boys.
The novel didn’t work for me for a number of reasons. Wimmera is positioned as a coming-of-age crime story (an Australian Stand By Me?). Yes, there is a crime – in fact, multiple crimes. Although each crime is carefully plotted, it was all too much and the final part of the story was rushed and uneven as a result. Furthermore, the voices of the boys missed the mark – their discussions about pornography and masturbation did not ring true and whilst these elements were used to provide contrast with other parts of the plot, they were gratuitous. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that having 11 year-olds look at pornography in one chapter, while they’re groomed in the next chapter, would be traumatic for some readers.
2/5 Needs to come with a raft of trigger warnings.
I received my copy of Wimmera from the publisher, Hachette Australia, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.