As with many cat-and-mouse plots, the cat eventually becomes the prey. How this comes about is a wickedly delicious premise that may or may not follow any of the breadcrumb trails the author has scattered for us ... It’s hard to believe this is [Downing's] debut novel. The conversations are dead-on natural—believable, even when the couple are discussing the unbelievable things they’ve done. The plot is rich in twists and turns, loyalty and betrayals, love and loathing. The prose is crisp and easy to read. Just not easy to put down. When you’re ready for a long weekend with a psychologically twisted page-turner, My Lovely Wife is your perfect date.
Despite being a first-time novelist, Downing writes with the confidence of an author with several books under her belt, which makes My Lovely Wife even more impressive than its intriguing concept. She fleshes out her work with a bevy of memorable characters who do more than just provide scenery and transition to an engrossing story. Readers have to pay attention to the folks who dip and swirl through Millicent and Tobias’ world. Each one plays a role that sends the plot spinning in a new direction. However, it is ultimately Tobias and Millicent who are full of surprises in this tale of life in the tony suburbs gone very, very wrong. Those who encounter My Lovely Wife—and many should—will want more from its extremely talented author and as soon as possible.
In Downing’s skillful hands, My Lovely Wife takes several wild turns, each bleaker than the last, and its sturdy construction (strong characters, deliberate pacing) bolsters the insanity. But Downing’s best choice here is her narrator: the unnamed husband, a simple fellow suckered into an unhealthy habit by his beguiling wife. His commentary reframes Millicent’s psychopathy with dark, hysterical mundanity, as if a mere symptom of their discontent.
One of the darkest novels you will ever read ... readers seeking heroic characters will find none in My Lovely Wife. Nor will they find a completely plausible plot, especially in the startling ending ... But they will find a disturbing portrait of the dark depths that humans can reach. The novel is difficult to put down because of the action, which is surprising and relentless. Yet the pace seems moderate. There are many details of the crimes to include and the novel may seem even slower because its events are so excruciating. And not just the murders. As it follows the couple, the crimes and the community, My Lovely Wife has much to say about marriage, infidelity, family life and the media—and just about all of it is dark.
Downing’s debut thriller offers a chilling look into the marriage of two psychopaths ... Readers will be fascinated by the abject coldness of Millicent, the odd and unreliable narrator, and the almost unbelievable denouement.
...taut ... Downing’s tale unfolds slowly and sinuously, building tension about the couples’ fate while revealing the origins of their homicidal hobby. The first-person, present-tense narration makes readers feel uncomfortably complicit in all that transpires, underscoring the plot’s grim and twisted nature. Readers will eagerly await Downing’s next thriller.