“The Wife” (Harper), by Alafair Burke
The issue of sexual harassment and assault gets a new spin in Alafair Burke’s gripping new novel, “The Wife.” With a fine eye for believable characters and what motivates people, Burke sculpts a solid domestic thriller that’s fresh and timely.
Angela Powell is the wife of Jason Powell, a highly respected economics professor and best-selling author. Her pampered, predictable life gives Angela a sense of control and peace that she needs.
When she was a teen, Angela was held captive for several years until she and her year-old baby were released. She has kept that past a secret from most people, fearful she would be fodder for media scrutiny.
Then Jason is accused of sexual harassment. His account of what happened seems plausible, but soon after, a second woman comes forward with a claim that he raped her. Angela wonders just how well she knows her husband.
Burke keeps readers off-kilter regarding the characters’ reliability and motives. Is Angela a reliable narrator or are her views tainted by her own experiences? Not only does she worry about Jason, she also worries about her own life and losing her shroud of privacy. The author also enhances the brisk plot with solid details about police procedures and legal maneuverings.