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  • Mandy McHugh

Pretty Little Wife, Darby Kane: A Review

Let me tell you: I'm a sucker for an antihero. Give me a morally-ambiguous heroine with a take-no-bullshit attitude, and I am a happy girl. So I was thrilled to be approved for Pretty Little Wife.

Lila is beautiful and smart and a devoted wife, but when she discovers her husband has a secret--a horrible, life-altering secret--she decides she has to take matters into her own hands. Resolved to kill her husband, she executes her plan and expects things to go swimmingly--until, that is, her husband is reported missing and she realizes the body is gone. Is Aaron alive? And is he coming for her next? I loved this book. On the surface, I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill standard thriller, and in some ways, you get all the successful ingredients you want from that genre: deceitful spouse, revenge, murder, twists--this, on its own, is done well, and Kane has a firm grasp on the status quo. However, Kane also proves to be a master at layered plots. There is *a lot* going on in this story. While we get some depth to our characters, this is really conflict driven, and Kane doesn't skimp on the dilemmas. A detective sorting through the missing husband. A podcast dissecting local cases. Three missing girls. Tragic backstories (plural here). Along with a slew of other interconnected events, developments, and missteps leading back to the central mystery of what happened to Aaron. That's not to say the characters are flat or boring. I loved Lila. You can't trust her, but that doesn't make her an unreliable narrator. Quite the contrary. She's smart, brazen, and tough. She's logical and unruffled and behaves in ways that would previously, IMHO, be attributed to the husband. She's not weepy, dramatic, or emotional. Practical and cunning. Kane really went for it with her reversal of power, and it pays off well. In a genre dominated by adoring husbands, murderous husbands, adulterous husbands, weeping wives, bitter wives, and scorned lovers--we get Lila, a woman capable of standing on her own two feet even when everyone around her tries to trip up her balance. A former lawyer with an analytical mindset, she's one of the most interesting characters I've read lately, and I couldn't get enough of her POV. I particularly loved her interactions with Ginny, and I think readers will, too. Overall, Pretty Little Wife is a twisty, gritty, smart thriller with wonderful characters and intrigue for days. I'd recommend for fans of Gillian Flynn, Killing Eve, Big Little Lies, or The Sinner. Big thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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