We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.
But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.
Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.
But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.
Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.
Whenever there is a high profile crime that beggars belief and the perpetrator appears to be some sort of inhumane monster, many thoughts often turn to the family, especially the partner. And questions are asked, such as: How could they not have known? Have they been covering for the criminal? Were they involved?
In this book we get to see the other side.
The widow is Jean Taylor. At first glance a meek, submissive woman dominated by her husband. But as her story goes on her layers are slowly exposed and we see she has many different aspects to her personality and she is as much in control as controlled.
It is quite difficult to believe that she is only 39 years old as she comes across as being much older than that. She talks about her husband’s ‘nonsense’, a phrase I would expect my grandmother to use.
Husband Glen has been accused of a terrible crime: the kidnap and possible murder of a two year old child. His character is very one dimensional, we only see him through Jean’s eyes, and it merely consists of him trying to persuade her that he didn’t do it.
Enter D. I. Bob Sparkes, a man whose life is deeply affected by this case. He is a good man that desperately wants to find the young girl; unfortunately this leads to some decisions that are no more than his heart ruling his head. To say that the police investigation was inept is an understatement of gigantic proportions. They follow false leads like a donkey follows a carrot.
Kate is the reporter who manages to get inside jean Taylor’s head. Fiona Barton does a great job of showing a different side to journalists. Yes, it is cut-throat, all of them trying to get the same exclusive, but they are also people and and not always the unfeeling beasts that they are made out to be.
Bella Elliott is the child who has been taken. If there is a problem with this book it is that Bella does not really have a part in the story, in that it’s all about the adults. The only way that Bella can affect us is through her name. Bella Elliott doesn’t roll off the tongue, it sits in your mouth, chewable, hard to swallow. This is the only connection we have with the lost child. Purposeful or co-incidence? I’m not sure, but it works.
I really enjoyed this book (if enjoy is the right word). It is a dark story full of mistrust, secrets and lies with frighteningly realistic characters; the very ordinariness of Jean Taylor is deeply disturbing.
I did guess part of the ending which must mean it’s quite obvious as I am a crime writer’s dream – never guessing anything. But all through the book I was never sure whether Glen Taylor had committed the crime or not. Never sure whether jean believed him or not. That’s what the book is about, the human psychology, what you know, how much your mind can be tricked. What you can live with. And it’s very good.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy via Netgalley.