Book Reviews

Book Review: The Widow

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By Kaira Rouda

Publication Date:  December 1, 2022

310 Pages

Jody and her husband, Congressman Martin Asher, have been a political golden couple for over thirty years.  Until Martin loses his shine and Jody sees the life she deserves slipping away.  Only Martin’s untimely death on the eve of his scandal becoming public saves Jody’s standing in society.  But she’s not done yet; she hasn’t had the life she dreamed of in college.  And if she couldn’t quite get there with Martin, why can’t she step into his shoes and become a political power in her own right?

Ruthless, ambitious, and completely lacking in empathy, Jody has just what it takes to make it to the top.  She won’t let anyone get in her way; not her former best friend, a nosy journalist, or the younger candidate.  Because she knows exactly how to take them all out.

I really wanted to like this book.  The cover is amazing and I’m all for a good political thriller.  The first chapter, with the Visine bottle, promised an amazing antagonist main character.  Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

It’s not unusual for the main character in a thriller to be the antagonist.  But normally there’s something off about them that’s dribbled in slowly so the reader is left wanting to know what their deal is.  The author tells you straight off that Jody’s a sociopath.  She admits it, has had conversations about it with her daughter and regularly reminds herself to be at least a little bit loving, because that’s what normal people do.  Frankly, it was difficult to buy and it made her seem incredibly 2-dimensional.

“The Widow” interpreted by Wombo Dream

Jody also had no arc.  I realize that the antagonist rarely does, but nothing changed for her except the people she was trying to con to gain power.  That might not have mattered so much if there had been at least one sympathetic character, but there wasn’t.  And not a single “aha” moment in the entire novel.  The one plot twist that did take me by surprise came out of the blue and hadn’t even been hinted at so it didn’t have any impact when it landed.

The story might have been saved for me if the pacing had held some tension, but several chapters were told in hindsight. Every character thought that everyone else was stupid, and necessary backstory was never given to explain why some of the characters did what they did, or at least not beyond me just having to accept their actions.  Lastly, and then I’ll stop ranting, most readers might not be old enough to remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal but I do.  I probably would have stayed away from the “sleeping with an intern” subplot line.

It’s rare that I can’t come up with anything good to say about a book, but unfortunately this one falls into that category.

1.5/5 stars ⭐+

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing the ARC.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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