Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Review - The Starter Wife

Title:   The Starter Wife
Author:  Nina Laurin
Genre:   Pyschological Thriller
Publisher:   Grand Central Publishing
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:  352
Date of Publication:  June 11, 2019
My Rating:  3.5 Stars

From the bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes "a spine-tingler" (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll. 

Local police have announced that they're closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband's first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There's a big difference. 

My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it's an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static. 

When the voice does finally come, it's female, low, muffled somehow. "Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is."

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She's not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It's Colleen.


For a moment, while reading The Starter Wife, I was reminded of Rebecca by Daphne DeMaurier. That feeling did not last too long in the book.

Was Claire Westcott, married two years to a man nearly twice her age, Byron, living in the shadow of his first wife, Colleen? Colleen, a successful painter, apparently committed suicide almost twenty years ago. Currently, the closing of the case of the suicide begins raising questions to Claire. While the police have finally vindicated Byron, rumors have not. Claire begins believing the rumors. Did Byron kill Colleen after all? Is Claire safe?

This entire story is relayed in two narrations, both in first-person. Quite naturally, we have Claire, with her everyday life and actions. Then we have someone unnamed, a person obsessed and who is stalking Byron. She is determined to save Byron. In dialog, she is quite clear that Byron's wife is not worthy of him. She will do anything she can to stop any harm from coming to Byron. Yes, she will go to any means necessary.

My connection to the classic that I alluded to at the beginning of this review? Claire is beset with jealousy and unease with any feelings Byron might have had towards Colleen, who was the starter wife. Claire is living in Colleen's house and enjoys the benefits from the the wealth that Colleen amassed due to her paintings, as well as her years as a college professor. Byron is also a professor, and seems oblivious to any feelings of uncertainty that Claire has.

With two unreliable narrators, and with a man like Byron, it was rather hard to feel drawn into the characters and their stories. However, I do think the story was done quite well, especially when a massive twist occurred in the story. I was absolutely riveted from that point on and my jaw simply dropped at the shocking conclusion.

I am glad to have read this book by Nina Laurin, even with the absolute crazy characters, and I definitely look forward to reading her books again in the future.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Nina Laurin is the author of two bestselling psychological thrillers, both out with Grand Central Publishing. Arriving in Montreal when she was just twelve years old, she speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English, but writes her novels in English. She wrote her first novel while getting her creative writing degree from Concordia University, and GIRL LAST SEEN was published a year later in 2017. The follow-up, WHAT MY SISTER KNEW, came out on June 19th 2018 to critical acclaim. Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she’s always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea.

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  1. I also thought of Rebecca reading the synopsis

  2. Great, honest review. I can totally see the Rebecca similarities.

  3. I'd heard a bit about this book and it looked really good. Thanks for your review.

  4. Ooh this sounds quite interesting! I haven't read Rebecca, so maybe that's two books I should read!

  5. I've been thinking of picking this one up. Great review!

  6. Great review. This sounds really good!

  7. I like the blurb of this book. I might have to add it to my TBR.