“The Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen quickly became one of my favorite books, especially after part one. I would highly recommend listening to this through an audiobook because the back and forth of Vanessa and Nellie is done especially well and adds another layer to the story itself (although that definitely stands on its own). There were moments where I was literally gasping out loud when motives were revealed, a plan went awry, and at each of the ends of the book’s three parts. It’s suspenseful and it plays on the reader’s assumptions of story characters and tropes.
I can’t give too much away, but the story follows Vanessa and Nellie and their relationship with the handsome, rich and successful Richard. Vanessa feels abandoned by him, but Nellie feels safe and secure for the first time in a while. As Nellie puts it, “Richard fixed everything.” Vanessa just sees his new fiancé as her replacement, and she is determined to break the two up. We see Vanessa after divorcing from Richard, living with her aging aunt with none of the comforts that his money used to provide: clothes, fancy vacations, country clubs and more. She doesn’t seem to have a support system to fall back on in her time of need, as memories of her previous marriage keep popping up.
“In my marriage,” Vanessa says, “there were three truths, three alternate and sometimes competing realities. There was Richard’s truth. There was my truth. And there was the actual truth, which is always the most elusive to recognize.”
Slowly we see the motives of each character reveal themselves, and no one is who you think they are. The people were well-developed, giving attention where it needs to be and ending with some air of mystery, but in a satisfying way that didn’t take away from the two main characters and their motives. Not only do we see these three characters but we are also introduced to Samantha, Maureen, Charlotte, Mrs. Keene, Frank, Lucille, Emma, Duke and others. All of these secondary characters are used as hints and pointers to the “truth” that Vanessa talks about. These characters were a bit more 2-D (with the exception of Maureen and Emma), but I personally didn’t mind because it was the three main characters that were the focus.
The beginning is a bit slow, but I believe the authors do this deliberately to set up the backgrounds of all the characters and establish a connection with the reader before anything shocking happens. Once I got past part one, I couldn’t stop listening to the audiobook. Although the authors say “assume nothing,” I thought I had everything figured out at least three separate times, only for Hendricks and Pekkanen to throw me another curveball. I liked that the surprises were not meant to just be purely shocking but challenge the reader’s assumptions in a way that makes sense with the story. Even at the very end, where I had pieced things together and found out I was right, it gives a feeling of, “I can’t believe I figured that out,” instead of, “Oh, I knew that was going to happen.”
This is a great starter book for anyone who wants to get into the thriller genre or for anyone who already loves thrillers, psychology, suspense and mystery.