Review: “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing

The perfect blend of psychological fiction and crime noir… Samantha Downing has set the bar high for herself with “My Lovely Wife”.  

About the Book

Book Cover: "My Lovely Wife" by Samantha Downing
“My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing

“Tobias” and his wife Millicent are the picture of domestic bliss. They have two teenage children. A boy who plays golf and video games. A girl who plays soccer and does well in school. They live in a mini-mansion. She’s a successful realtor. They belong to a country club where he’s a tennis instructor. From the outside looking in, their lives are ideal.

But reality is something very different.

This isn’t a couple who utilizes romantic date nights, sexy lingerie, or any of the other things married couples deploy to spice up their marriage. Heck no. This couple creates spice by abducting and killing young women. It’s what bonds them as a couple — and makes their sex life sizzle.

My Review

“My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing is the perfect blend of psychological fiction and crime noir.   Told in first person by “Tobias” — whose real name is never revealed– the story is heavy on narratives and lighter on dialogue.   This would be the death knell for some books. But it’s exactly what “My Lovely Wife” needs to be able to sink deep into the mind of “Tobias”.

“My Lovely Wife” is about a married couple who abduct and kill women. But the book goes a lot deeper than a simple plot, like good psychological fiction should. As “Tobias” narrates the story, he occasionally dips back into his past to reveal his motivations. His childhood and the parents who ignored him. The history of his relationship with Millicent. It’s all seamless and realistic storytelling without abrupt flashbacks. It’s as natural as thinking about ordering a pizza from the restaurant down the road, then remembering that it’s usually burnt and choosing another pizzeria instead.

It’s clear that “Tobias” craves the affection from his wife that he never got as a child. It’s also clear that the times when they’re the closest and sexiest as a couple is in the planning of, then the abduction and killing of women. That said, “Tobias” and Millicent have very different motives. It’s Millicent’s motivations that bring “My Lovely Wife” to its shocking conclusion.

As far as debuts go, Samantha Downing has set the bar high for herself with “My Lovely Wife”.   The characters are well fleshed out and multi-dimensional. The ending is foreshadowed with tiny clues, but they’re so subtle that they’re nearly invisible. Even the twists are woven into the story so well, you don’t take particular notice. Until you get close to the finish, that is. A few mind-jerking twists round out the book to leave you slack-jawed and wide-eyed.

Hands down, “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing is one of the best pieces of psychological fiction I’ve read in a while.  Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for crime noir. Or perhaps it’s because it’s that good. Read it for yourself, and let me know.

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