Unreliable voice a good thing

  • 'The Wife Stalker,' by Liv Constantine; Harper, 320 pages, 27.99 (Harper Collins/TNS) Harper Collins

Sun Sentinel
Published: 7/1/2020 3:17:00 PM
Modified: 7/1/2020 3:16:48 PM

The unreliable narrator can frustrate readers a bit as they try to figure out just who to believe, but this literary trope also can make for some intriguing novels as Liv Constantine shows in her third, exciting novel, The Wife Stalker.

Constantine, the pseudonym for sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine, again shows a knack for the psychological thriller that they established in their bestselling debut The Last Mrs. Parrish. It is easy to overlook the shallow prose when the strong storytelling draws in the reader hook, line and sinker.

The Wife Stalker alternates between two desperate women. Joanna loves her two wonderful children, Evie and Stelli, and believes her marriage to charismatic attorney Leo Drakos is secure and happy.

A new resident of Westport, Conn., Piper Reynard has decided she wants Joanna’s family. Piper has opened a rehab and wellness business, immersing herself in the affluent community by joining the yacht club. Piper, who’s changed her name and scrubbed her internet identity, is hoping this move will be permanent as she’s tired of finding “new places to hide,” especially since the rather untimely deaths of her husband and stepdaughter in California.

Joanna knows that Leo has been suffering from depression and believes that the affair with Piper is part of that. She hopes that he will return to her and, most importantly, knows he loves the children. Piper has other ideas as events take a dark turn. Although worried about the safety of Leo and her children, Joanna finds herself alone as both her therapist and emotionally cold mother believe she is just being paranoid. Obviously, they never heard the term gaslight.

The reader’s allegiance often shifts from Joanna to Piper as each narrates, showing a different perspective. Each believable twist draws in the reader.

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