Review: The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin

Title: The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes “a spine-tingler” (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll.

Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.

My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it’s an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.

When the voice does finally come, it’s female, low, muffled somehow. “Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is.”

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She’s not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It’s Colleen.


The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin is a gripping domestic mystery.

Claire and Byron Westcott have been married for two years. She is an aspiring novelist and he is a college professor.  Twenty years younger than Byron, Claire lives in the shadow of his first wife, Colleen, who committed suicide years earlier. At first blissfully happy, Claire is troubled by a recent distance between herself and Byron. But exactly how far is Claire willing to go to save her marriage?

Claire initially comes across as an even-keeled woman who is naturally upset by the changes in her husband’s attention to her. But she figures she is partially to blame for the growing rift. The past few months have gone by in a bit of haze due to drinking and strange bouts of not feeling quite herself. Claire thinks she knows exactly what she needs to do to hang on to her man, but she has a few obstacles to overcome to achieve her goal. She also becomes obsessed with finding out more details about Colleen so she turns to an acquaintance who reveals some very enlightening information.  As Claire begins snooping around in Byron’s past, she begins to slowly unravel.

Byron is a bit of an enigmatic figure since he is spends most of his time away from home. He is quite solicitous of Claire, but she cannot help but wonder if he has an ulterior motive.  Byron takes steps to rekindle their waning romance, but will Claire be receptive to his overtures?

Passages written from an unknown person’s perspective add a high degree of suspense to the unfolding story.  This person is clearly a bit unhinged and willing to do anything to get close to the object of their obsession.  But is this person involved with some of the troubling events occurring in Claire’s life?

The Starter Wife is a very entertaining and engrossing mystery. Claire is an intriguing character who slowly devolves over the course of the novel. The storyline is quite clever and fast-paced. With a few well placed red herrings and a series of misdirects, Nina Laurin brings this brilliant mystery to a twist-filled, jaw-dropping conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this suspenseful mystery to readers of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Grand Central Publishing, Mystery, Nina Laurin, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Starter Wife

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