REVIEW: The Widow by Carla Neggers
Dear Ms. Neggers:
I saw from your website that this is your first hardcover. I read your book directly after finishing Linda Howard’s Cover of Night. You would suppose that given La Belle Howard’s huge popularity and my love for many of her works, your placement in the reading order would result in a negative. Fortunately, I kept thinking throughout The Widow that this is how Linda Howard should have done it. Your book and Linda Howard’s have a couple of similarities.
- Suspense thread
- Grieving widow
- Mild unrequited love (in Howard’s, this is a bit more pronounced).
On every level, this was a better story. Abigail Browning is a widow whose FBI Agent husband is killed on their honeymoon when the two of them went to stay in his home in upper Maine. One day, Abigail is attacked by someone and her necklace is stolen. Her husband, Christopher, comes home to find her injured. He is angry and believes he knows who is responsible. Later that night he goes out to confront the attacker. Chris does not return. Instead, he is found shot in the head but the crime remains unsolved. This bothers many people. Abigail’s father is the director of the FBI and was at the time of Chris’ death. Lee Beeler, a Maine State Police Detective and one of the most respected detectives of the state, cannot shake off the unsolved nature of Chris’ death. When Abigail begins to receive telephone calls on the 7th Anniversary of Chris’ death that the answer to his murder is at the home of his death, she can’t ignore it. Nor is she encouraged to.
She returns to Mt. Desert Island. There she begins to investigate, once again, the murder of Chris Browning. During this investigation, she reconnects with an old friend of Chris’, Owen Garrison. His home shares a driveway with Abigail’s. Owen’s family is a wealthy and well connected family who sold their home at Mt. Desert Island when Owen’s 13 year old sister drown off the coast. Owen was 11 at the time. Owen and Abigail both understand loss. Both have been marked by it but both are able to move past their grief and loss to recognize that between them they have a chance at something worthwhile.
The romance was intrical to the storyline. Abigail acknowledges that she cannot ever have the first love again, but that does not mean she doesn’t want to love again. Owen acknowledges that maybe he has always been attracted to Abigail but that dormant attraction did nothing to stop him from living. When they are thrown together by Abigail’s investigation, Owen’s feelings are brought to the surface and he is slow but not shy in revealing them to Abigail.
You do a good job of setting up a couple of different people as the killers and I wasn’t quite sure who it was until the end. I only deduced it based on a process of elimination as you parceled out clues. I was a bit disappointed in the reveal and the motivations for getting Abigail to come up and re open old wounds. You explained it but I wasn’t sure I completely bought into it. However, the journey was believable and real and that made up for the somewhat poor ending.
I also thought the romance was resolved in a modern way. There is no wedding, but I certainly believe in the success of this couple and that the two of them love each other equally. As a suspense, there were some niggles as I stated earlier regarding the killer’s activities in the book, but the romance was good. B- for you. I would definitely recommend this over Cover of Night any day of the week.