cover image The Wife and the Widow

The Wife and the Widow

Christian White. Minotaur, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-19437-4

A tragedy and longtime secrets bring together two women from different backgrounds in this stellar family drama from Australian author White (The Nowhere Child). Wealthy stay-at-home mom Kate Keddie is the widow of the title, a designation she receives shortly after waiting in vain at the airport with her 10-year-old daughter for her husband, John, to return to Melbourne following a business trip to London. Kate soon learns that John never made the trip, and that he quit his health-care job three months earlier without telling anyone; then his body washes up on Belport Island, where the Keddies have a vacation home. Supermarket clerk and amateur taxidermist Abby Gilpin is the wife of the title, who lives with her two sulky teenagers and her husband, Ray, a caretaker for the unoccupied holiday houses on Belport Island. Superior plotting buoyed by strong characters fuel the women’s separate investigations as Kate looks into John’s activities and Abby wonders why Ray is distant and sad. A clever twist near the end upends the plot’s trajectory. Readers will eagerly await White’s next. Agents: Jennifer Naughton and Candace Thorn, RGM (Australia). (Jan.)