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The Widow, by Fiona Barton


There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…



The WidowImagine someone asking you if you’d like to go to the zoo with them. You jump at the chance because you love the zoo. Rather than to take you the twenty minute drive directly to the zoo, they take the long way ’round. You get to see Mr. Brown’s three-legged dog, where the old meeting hall used to be, where your friend’s Aunt Ethel and Uncle Ted first lived when they moved from the old country, and the Giant that used to be Greg’s Grocery. At the end of the day the overall trip was good because you got to see the monkeys, and you never tire of watching monkeys and their antics, but you’re worn out from the extras. The day would have been perfect if they had just taken you to the zoo and left the rest of it out.

That’s how I felt about this book. Overall, it was a good story, but would have been a great story if not for the over-inflated middle. It started off strong, but at about the 25% mark it began to slow… and stayed slow until about the 75% mark.

Stephen King says, “If you liked Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, you might want to pick up The Widow. Engrossing. Suspenseful.

I love Stephen King. I think the man is a genius. But IMO, he embellished. Understandable if you’ve ever read 11/22/63. Like The Widow, that book was very good, but about 300 pages too long.

Another thing that took away from the read a bit for me, the head hopping. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen. An example: page 305 of the paperback, Kate was pleased…. that is fine as we are in Kate’s head. But without so much as a page break, we are now in Sparkes’s head when he suddenly felt out of his depth. Then again when he tried to regain his professional footing. It also happened at the end of the 12th chapter between The Detective and Michael Doonan. Each of the chapters were titled with a date, and the viewpoint character’s name. But in several instances, and quite out of nowhere, the author jumped into another character’s head without warning. If the entire book had been written that way, one could get used to it and find it easier to hang tight with the sudden shifts. But as the chapters were divided between characters, it was a jolt that slowed the story, especially in the mid section where it was moving at snail’s pace the way it was.

I enjoyed the writing style, and the overall story, but not the pace or the length. It simply felt that the author was trying to extend the story without having anything relevant to say during that portion of the book.

I understand this was a debut novel. I would expect her next book to be better than her first and would try another of her titles. 3.5* on Amazon.


Cover Love!

I spend the majority of my day on the computer between research, social promotion, networking, blogging and my own writing. I happen upon hundreds of writing blogs over the course of a week. There are many well-written, informative sites (a topic for a later post), but the one thing I rarely, if ever, see is a post dedicated to book covers. Sure, a few words thrown into the grand scheme of writing/publishing/promoting. But not much and not often.

So, this blog is all about covers.

I got the idea for this when I responded to a tweet. Someone posted a picture of a cover and offered an ARC of the book to the

person who won the contest for an original RT, reply or mention. (I won!) I loved the cover of this particular book and replied simply ‘Cover Love’. The winner was to be chosen that evening and I awoke the following morning to the message saying I’d won. Yay! Then I got the idea for the blog post.

First, here is the cover I replied to (Awake). Tell me if you agree!

A cover should serve a purpose and not just be pretty. It should either give an insight into the work itself, set a tone, or strike a chord with the reader.

Cover art differs by genre. For instance, romance readers, especially from decades gone by, immediately recognize the Fabio-graced covers that filled shelf after shelf in bookstores. They were colorful and always depicted either a helpless, forlorn female in a vintage hoop-bottomed dress with a ridiculously tiny waist gazing into the eyes of Fabio-types or, a strong independent female who was ready to take on the world, her back turned away from the male/captor of her desire.

Romance has subdivided into many genres in recent years and the covers have updated with the times and those genres in mind and now depict modern-looking characters, settings, and apparel.

A close cousin is the more recently added genre: erotica. Erotica seems to have guidelines all its own.

The covers are often done in grayscale, and often minimalistic in their illustration. A simple gray-patterned tie adorned the front of Fifty Shades of Grey. Although I’m not a fan of the genre, I am a fan of many of the covers. If a title has to say something to the reader, what more can it say when it has a provocative title and a pair of handcuffs as the only visual on the front cover.

That, to me, says bondage.

Moving on. Although I don’t know who does the artwork for Renee Rosen’s books, one look speaks volumes. They give the sense of time (period) and the type of protagonist in the story. They also mirror the title. They give a true impression of what you’ll find when you open the book.

At one time, mysteries and crime fiction were always covered with any of the following: a dead body, a gun or any other weapon, blood, police car, a silhouette on a dark road or jail cell. You knew you’d be reading a mystery before you opened the book. Today’s mysteries have come a long way. The covers now are more colorful and less overt.

I wanted to give a brief overview of the genres that have more specific

guidelines for their covers. What I’d like to get into now are the covers I like best. The ones that are clever. Unique. Eye-catching. The ones that are as impressive as the words inside. I love the minimalistic, yet speak a-thousand words types of covers, such as Silence Once Begun and An Ethics of Interrogation. I have not read the book, but I am drawn to the cover and at some point, probably will. 

An Ethics of Interrogation

I would love to share all of the amazing covers I have come across, but time and space won’t allow that. My point was to point out that the cover is the first thing a reader judges about the author and their work. Make it count. Sure, a good blurb and a few plugs by famous authors won’t hurt, but the cover is their first impression.

I apologize in advance to Eugene Bongiorno, but the cover of The Woman is one of my least favorite covers. It is minimalistic – to a fault – but it has no personality. It does not speak. Apologetically, I would pass this book over on a shelf simply for those reasons.

There are also covers that could have been good, but aren’t. In these cases it isn’t the illustrations that hold the cover back, but the font used. Although I have come across many examples while researching for this post, here is the one that came in and #1. The picture, although not unique or especially eye-catching, if alright. But look at the font. Big, bold, chunky black lettering that reminds me of something that might have flashed across the screen at a drive-in during a 1960’s horror movie.

We have such a wide array of fonts available today, there is no reason to resort back to the basic fonts of yesteryear. And the jet-black on top of such a pastel setting. Not only is it ugly, it does nothing for the work inside.

Is there a particular cover that has stuck out for you? Have you ever bought a book strictly based on the cover design? Your thoughts are important. Authors love to hear from readers and learn what they like and what isn’t working. That’s how we grow. Please, share your favorite cover below!

*I have linked each book to its Amazon page in the even of interest.

k.e. garvey

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