“He has kept more than one secret from you”
- Book: His Hidden Wife
- Location: Bridport, Dorset
- Author: Wendy Clarke
This book has definitely set the benchmark for creepy and twisted psychological thrillers, for the rest of 2021! – And I’m never ever making an appointment for a consultation with a therapist, that’s for sure! Even travelling to Lyme Regis and Bridport, two of my favourite places on the Jurassic Coast, will never be the same again, especially some of the many clifftop walks I have enjoyed so much in the past!
The opening lines from the prologue set up the backstory; with that same image and physical location being the focal point, which is revisited on several occasions during the course of this engrossing and disturbing storyline; leading to an ending which although consigned to a box in the back of my mind, and that of our main protagonist, still leaves that echo of doubt niggling away, that everything is not quite as cut and dried as we might have been led to believe!
Multi-layered is probably an understatement when it comes to trying to analyse the complexity of the story which opened up before me. I felt a palpable tension in the air as I began reading, with the suspense only intensifying as the storyline unfolded, leaving this a far from relaxing read, as I was continually on edge and needing to turn the pages ever faster! The twists and turns in this multi-faceted plot, just kept coming and there were more than enough red herrings to trip up even the most consummate thriller reader and they did me, constantly. Several times I had the storyline all worked out and straight in my mind; who was fooling who, who might have committed murder, who might be planning murder, who was bad pretending to be good, and who was good but was fooling everyone because they were really only covering their tracks; and every time, with the mere turn of a page, my mind was changed again!
This plot was compellingly and intricately built, lie by lie like the bricks of a child’s construction set, then dismantled piece by piece like a game of Jenga, until that one vital corner was pushed out in error and the whole thing collapsed into an untidy mess. A richly crafted and masterfully written, penetrating insight into the vagaries of the human mind, as witnessed from multiple perspectives, but with no single one of them being any less twisted than the others, until I wasn’t really sure exactly who was fooling who!
Whilst in itself this was not a particularly fast paced story, some mature and effortlessly skilled narrative and dialogue kept things seamlessly moving along, with the compelling blend and ever shifting sands of multiple duplicitous characters, the never-ending stream of secrets, and game changing event dynamics. There were only ever going to be two losers in this whole sorry affair and unfortunately those were the two young people involved, who both in different ways and with individual outcomes, have had their lives changed, and in Maya’s case completely rewritten, forever.
Talking about characters, which I suppose I must! There was not a particularly big cast of primary characters and although they were well drawn and developed, I found it really difficult to relate to, or engage with, any single one of them, which I suspect, was exactly as the had author intended. Keeping true to the personalities they had each been allocated, they were all far too complex and ‘needy’ to have any synergy going on between them. Add to that the many layers of facade, lies, deceit, secrets, selfishness, guilt, vindictiveness and vengeful thoughts, they all seemed to be harbouring, one against another, and you can see why I found none of them particularly likeable or investable!
There really are no winners in this story! – “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”