A few critics have noted that Barton tips her hand too soon. While that might be a first-time novelist's mistake, it might also be the deliberate work of a professional observer who knows that the lies we tell ourselves can be more devastating than those we tell others.
Barton is a veteran British journalist who has reported for the Daily Mail and other publications, so it comes as no surprise that her prose is deft and her story well told. What does come as a surprise is that her novel is also richly character-driven in a way that is both satisfying and engrossing.
Barton knows how to ramp up tension, but when she leaves Jean to focus on the detective and the reporter, the story loses some steam. All three have secrets, and they all lie, but Jean is lying to herself, which makes her far more interesting.
Barton executes her trashy concept with style, producing a highly compelling guilty read ... Given the subject matter, the book could easily feel exploitative or overly sensationalist, but Barton leaves any graphic details to the reader’s imagination.
...a taut reconstruction of a crime and a ruthless examination of marriage, told from the multiple viewpoints of not-always-reliable narrators ... The Widow is the kind of book you can zoom through on a long flight or a lazy Sunday: a smartly crafted, compulsively readable tale about the lies people tell each other, and themselves, when the truth is the last thing they really want to know.
Barton skillfully weaves a tale that reminds us that yes, we can be deceived by others, but we can just as easily deceive ourselves. Perception is a two-way street. A stranger or a loved one can play a role or act a part until it feels real.