The Trapped Wife,
by Samantha Hayes
Publication: Bookouture; September 8, 2021
About: I thought I had it all. The perfect job. The perfect house. The perfect family. But everything changed the night my husband disappeared…
I can’t remember what happened that night in the hotel, and now you’re here and I can’t escape.
If I don’t smile, pour your drinks, laugh at your jokes, pretend you’re the only man in our lives, you say you will tell everyone the truth about what happened the night before my husband disappeared; that you will destroy my family.
So I play my part, dance to your tune, bide my time as I quietly put together the pieces of what really happened that night.
Because just when you think you are safe, that you have got everything you ever wanted from me and my precious family, you will finally see.
I am so much more than the perfect wife I seem…
Jen is a doctor living with her 16-year-old son, Kieran. Her husband was recently killed in an avalanche while on a skiing trip while Jen is still struggling to piece together a night while she was out of town on a medical conference. Then the man from the conference shows up and basically inserts himself into Jen’s life, with a creep factor like none that I have read recently. Are you irritated with her already for allowing him to bully his way into her life? I was.
This novel is told from 2 present tense points of view: Jen and Rhonda, Jen’s best friend. Jen is returning to work after her husband’s death, dealing with her grieving teenage son, and dealing with all kinds of issues in her head about a night away at a medical conference. Rhonda is Jen’s best friend and understandably worried and concerned. Rhonda almost seems like too perfect of a best friend, going above and beyond to help out. There is also a past point of view told by a young boy named Evan. Evan lives in an abusive home with a violent stepfather, an emotionally absent mother, and his young sister. Evan is also bullied at school until one day he makes friends with Mac, and they become thick as thieves. Scott is also a prominent character but we are told about Scott from either Jen or Rhonda.
The Trapped Wife is very creepy and probably one of the best examples of a psychological thriller that I have read. Every chapter revealed more about each character, which planted not seeds of doubt, but an entire garden of doubt in my mind concerning almost every character in the book. I was confused by their motivations, confused by their behaviors, and absolutely never saw anything coming that was revealed towards the end. Most of my theories and suspicions were completely off-base making me want to go back and start the book completely over to see if I can pick up on any hints. Do you remember watching The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis and once you realized he was dead you were like, “oh my God?” That was my reaction to the end of this book. I was staring at my iPad thinking, “where the hell did that come from” with mixed emotions of horror and delight because of what I learned, yet it was such a satisfying twist.
Never in my life did I imagine how this would all end.
My main criticism of the novel is Jen herself. I found myself completely baffled as to why a mature, grown woman, a doctor, a reasonable person would allow Scott to invade her life the way he did. But it all made sense in the end. I highly, highly recommend this be your next read if you are a fan of psychological thrillers, especially if you are already a fan of Samantha Hayes – this one will not disappoint!
*Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!