Published by Berkley Books on March 26, 2019
Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.
We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.
You probably saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith when you were younger, right? Sexy, kick-ass power couple that also just happens to be spies? If not you probably saw Spy Kids which was abhorrent, but the same sort of deal – a normal family, that is secretly spies. Only in this case, the kids have no idea mom and dad have a secret life. And that secret life is not related to being a secret agent – actually, mom and dad are serial killers. It’s like Dexter, only not garbage.
(This show went off the rails on a crazy train after approximately season 4, aka The Last Good Season, aka The One With John Lithgow. Fight me on this opinion if you must, I will die on this hill).
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
Our narrator is an everyman whose name we never actually learn. He teaches tennis lessons at the country club, alternates soccer and golf practices with his wife to make sure their two teenagers are well cared for, eats dinner with his family each and every night – no cell phones at the table, either – and always goes to bed alongside his doting wife, Millicent. What’s not to love?
Well, for one thing, he pretends to be a deaf guy named Tobias, lures in unsuspecting women, stalks them, and then he and his wife kidnap and murder them. He is definitely not deaf, definitely not named Tobias, and he absolutely enjoys reeling these ladies in for the kill. “Until death do us part” takes on a whole new meaning with this family.
So, ya know, that can put a damper on some things. Maybe stalking women nobody will realize are missing and killing them, hiding their bodies where they will never be found, is not your ideal date night – but let me tell you, it’s theirs! And they are damn good at it, with a rising body count that is completely unsuspected by anyone in their sleepy little town. They have “date night” in the car where they talk about murder over a pint of ice cream or some vegan cookies – Millicent is the perfect mother, and only eats healthy food – and always make sure the kids don’t notice their extracurricular activities.
Until, that is, suddenly it’s not so easy. There’s a crack in their latest scheme, and things begin to slowly undulate out of control as Millicent and Not-Tobias have to do everything in their power to keep their newest conquest out of the spotlight, all the while juggling their son’s first girlfriend and their daughter’s growing medical issues.
That’s the basic premise of My Lovely Wife, and telling you much more will begin to encroach on territory laden with spoilers, which I absolutely want to stay away from. This is one of those thrillers that will work beautifully, but you can’t know anything about it going in beyond what’s on the flap or it just won’t be as fun for you. I am pretty good at seeing a plot twist coming, but I refreshingly had no idea about any of the things that happened near the end of this one. I figured it would go one way, and it did a total 180 and laughed in my face. I love it when a thriller does this, and it’s a lot more rare these days than you might think.
Basically, just listen to “Sweet But Psycho” by Ava Max while watching that creepy opening scene from Gone Girl where Amy is laying on Nick’s chest and looking like she’s going to kill everything you love, and that’s the backdrop you need for My Lovely Wife. Here, I’ll even link you.
The Bottom Line
My Lovely Wife is, at the end of the day, fun. I see a lot of Goodreads reviews whining about how implausible it is, and I have to sigh a little at that – of course it’s implausible, this is fiction about a serial killer. It’s just as plausible as Dexter – and we all know that’s fiction. If you want to read a thriller about a realistic serial killer husband and wife team … go pick up nonfiction, because this ain’t it, chief.
“What kept it from being a five star read for you, Patricia?” you might ask. Well, what keeps me from giving anything five stars? Our very best friend, Mr. Big Red Bow Ending! Yet again, the epilogue had me rolling my eyes. I would almost recommend skipping it, but it does give you closure – just not realistic closure, which I can’t get too mad about considering I just told you to get over it if you want realism in your Date Night Serial Killer novels.
Footage of me recommending this book to you and explaining the plot without giving too much away but still trying to convey how fun it is via interpretive dance.
Is it my favorite thriller of the year? I can honestly say I’m not sure, because I’ve read some damn good ones. But is it in my top 3? Absolutely. If you’re tired of domestic thrillers where one partner is a little crazy and you spend the novel waiting for the other one to figure it out, why not try a novel where both partners are crazy?! Double your pleasure, double your fun, as they say.