A woman whose recently deceased husband was the prime suspect in a horrific crime struggles with how—and if—she wants to step out from behind his shadow.
Only a week after Jean Taylor’s husband, Glen, stumbled in front of a London bus and died, the titular widow is beset by journalists begging for the exclusive rights to her story. Told from alternating perspectives—the widow, the journalist, the detective—and ping-ponging back and forth in time, Barton’s debut is unfortunately more conventional than it first appears. At its core is the abduction of 2-year-old Bella Elliott from her Southampton backyard. With no immediate leads, the investigation, led by DI Bob Sparkes, flounders for weeks, which turn into months, until a tip leads Sparkes and his team to a blue van seen in the vicinity and thus to Glen, a delivery driver. Jean thought her marriage to Glen was the stuff of fairy tales: they’d married young, and he’d promised to always take care of her. She’s the faithful, steadfast wife, even when the police start poking around Glen’s life and it’s revealed that he has a proclivity for child pornography—Jean refers to it as his “nonsense.” But the question of how much she really knows about Glen’s guilt—he was acquitted on all charges and successfully sued the police, but Bella is still missing—is what the Daily Post’s Kate Waters, who finally coaxes the story out of her, is determined to uncover.
The idea of a woman who stands beside an alleged monster is an intriguing one, and very nearly well-executed here, if it weren't bogged down with other too-familiar plotlines.