Fourteen years ago, prosecutor Jessica Yardley’s husband went to prison for a series of brutal murders. She’s finally created a life with her daughter and is a well-respected attorney. She’s moving on. But when a new rash of homicides has her ex-husband, Eddie, written all over them – the nightmares of her past come back to life.
The FBI asks Jessica to get involved in the hunt for this copycat killer – which means visiting her ex and collaborating with the man who tore her life apart.
As the copycat’s motives become clearer, the new life Jessica created for herself gets darker. She must ask herself who she can trust and if she’s capable of stopping the killer – a man whose every crime is a bloody valentine from a twisted mastermind she’s afraid she may never escape.
I picked up ‘A Killer’s Wife’ because it got good reviews that described it as an engaging thriller, it’s the first book in what might be a promising series and because it was included in my Audible membership,
Victor Methos writes strong, clear prose. He keeps the story moving forward without making me feel rushed. He describes the police procedures and the legal processes in a way that feels real without making me drown in his research. His main character is strong but damaged and he surrounds her with people who are well enough described to provide that basis to know who to cast if they make it into a TV series.
If I had to describe the writing and storytelling in a single word, I’d say ‘Proficient’.
That proficiency, together with Brittany Pressley’s excellent narration carried me through 41% of the book in an afternoon.
Then I let myself think about what Victor Methos was being proficient at.
This isn’t one of those suspect-rich police procedurals that invite the reader to watch a puzzle being solved. Nor is it a psychological thriller (although there’s lots of talk about the psychology of sadistic killers). So far, it has been particularly thrilling. I suspect this will change before the end of the book as the main character is put a personal risk but right now, I’m not feeling it.
As I thought this through, I realised that what Victor Methos was proving himself to be proficient at was a kind of dispassionate voyeurism. The prologue gives us a young woman throwing herself out of a moving car in an effort to escape from a man who then hunts her. We get detailed descriptions of couples being killed in their beds and then being left for their children to find in the morning. We are invited to consider how it feels to have been married to a sadistic serial killer and rapist and to have no idea of the kind of man he really was.
The plot is punctuated with brutal acts of violence carried out by clever, careful, ruthless men. The descriptions are vivid, detailed and emotionally flat.
As I shut down the audiobook tonight, I realised that I had another five hours of this voyeurism ahead of me and I decided to set the book aside. I don’t care who committed the murders or why. The main character is interesting but I can see that she and her family are going to be put through hell while I watch. And the watching serves no purpose. These images do not entertain me, thrill me or even puzzle me. They just desensitise me to the violence that they describe and normalise the concept of the clever serial killer.
So, I’m setting this book, and the rest of the series to one side and moving on to something that doesn’t leave me feeling that I’m participating in something mildly shameful.