THE GOOD WIDOW
By Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Lake Union Publishing (June, 2017)
by Shirley Wetzel
Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales was having a quiet day, folding laundry while facetiming her sister Beth. Her husband was on one of his frequent business trips, this time to Kansas. She regretted that their parting words were bitter, but over the course of their eight year marriage they’d grown apart. There was still love, but he no longer welcomed her questions about his business, and was reluctant to talk about his trips. Things would get better, she was sure of it.
Then the doorbell rang, and she opened it to see two people, a man and woman, who were obviously from the police. She knew what they would tell her would change her life forever, and she was right. They “regretted to inform her” that James was dead, killed when his jeep went off the road and over a cliff in Maui. She couldn’t fathom their words, could not accept them. When they insisted in their claim, her heart was shattered, her mind frozen. When she could finally speak, her first question was “What the hell was my husband doing in Maui?”
The devastated widow walked numbly through the process of laying her husband to rest, with the help and support of her family. Beth was her lifeline, taking care of the all details. The day after the memorial, she was dealt another blow. Officer Keoloha, who was in charge of the case in Maui, called to tell her that James was not alone when he died. A young woman named Dylan Matthews was in the car with him. She’d been thrown into the sea, her body only recovered days later. The hotel staff verified that the two had been sharing a room. Several witnesses had seen them together, and had no doubt they were a couple.
Jacks became obsessed with finding all the details about the trip, and about the place where the accident had taken place. She learned it happened on a winding road along high cliffs. Every year there were multiple fatalities, so it wasn’t an uncommon event. That didn’t satisfy her, though. Something was missing. Who was Dylan Matthews, why was she in Hawaii with James, and what role did she play in her husband’s life?
Shortly after learning about Dylan, she got another shock. A young man rode his motorcycle up her driveway, knocked on her door, and told her he wanted to talk about her husband. His name was Nick Ford, and he was Dylan’s fiancé. He asked Jacks to join forces, to go to Maui and retrace the doomed couple’s steps, in hope of finding answers to their many questions. Jacks was reluctant to accept his plan. She didn’t really know him, but he seemed kind, and his emotional support was comforting. He was as sad and angry as she was, and knew what she was going through. Beth warned her it was a bad idea, and Beth knew her best. Still…after much thought and discussion, she joined him on a flight to Hawaii. They spent days talking to the police, the hotel staff, the people who’d seen them together. Officer Keoloha shared his findings with them, and tried to help as much as he could. In the end, most of their questions went unanswered, and they returned home, sadder but none the wiser.
Her grief became less crippling, and her relationship with Nick grew stronger. He was a fireman, strong, capable, funny and eager to meet her needs, to show her she was loved. What happened in Hawaii, however, still haunted her. Important questions about the fatal crash were nagging at her. She kept in touch with Officer Keoloha, who shared her feeling that there was much more to the story. Jacks kept up her search, a decision that put her in mortal danger. Someone had reason to want her to stop her meddling. The deeper she dug, the more disturbing and confusing the case became.
THE GOOD WIDOW is psychological suspense at its best. The wicked twists and turns keep the reader wondering about what’s really going on. In addition to being a finely-plotted mystery, the book is a study in relationships, examining the best and worst of the human condition and the many variations on how love can affect people. Recommended.
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