Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
Elle Croft’s debut novel, The Guilty Wife, is (cliché alert) a page-turner with a mind-bending plot. No time to stop for coffee, solving the mystery of who killed Calum Bradley becomes paramount. Easy to dismiss the obvious ‘red herring’, really it could only be … but then it wasn’t. Then maybe it was … But then it wasn’t. At this point the advantages of speed-reading become apparent.
Bethany Retson has everything, a kind and thoughtful husband, Jason, and her own photographic studio. Business is going well, in fact, celebrity billionaire Calum Bradley, has commissioned her to photograph him in working mode. This expands to taking personal shots for a coffee table book that will compliment his new television reality show. And, this expands to an affair with Calum Bradley. It is imperative that no one knows. Calum is concerned about negative publicity – a previous affair had resulted in acid being thrown in his lover’s face. Bethany is equally keen to avoid this.
Loving two men at the same time is not a sustainable state of affairs, so Bethany has a few hard choices to make. But, before she can settle into a decision, Calum is murdered. Closet grieving isn’t easy; Bethany can only appear as distressed as if a client, and not someone she loved, had died. Furthermore, Bethany is really worried about her birthday gift to Calum, namely, revealing photographs of them both enjoying ‘down time’. Her life would become complicated on so many levels if their affair became public knowledge, not least of all, she might be considered a suspect in the fatal stabbing.
Unfortunately for Bethany, Calum’s demise happened minutes after a rather emotional meeting. CCTV image could place her at the scene if anyone recognized her unusual hat. Threatening messages and dead flowers appear in her apartment, clearly someone knows about the connection. The messages warned her not to contact the police. Discriminating photos appear on her social media pages. Fear is now part of every hour, of every day. In this state she confides in her girlfriend, divorce lawyer, Alex, and eventually tells Jason. Together they are all determined to solve the crime before Bethany becomes number one suspect.
The pace and prose rockets along, no one, least of all the reader, has time for in depth character analysis, the circumstances speak for themselves. Elle Croft is successful in passing Bethany’s psychological state and cluelessness on to the reader, so the read is a heart thumping experience.
A well crafted novel and a great debut novel!
The Guilty Wife
Paperback: ISBN: 9781409175421 – $19.99