“The Wife Upstairs” unfolds in a first person narrative by Jane; of course she had not been born Jane, but that was part of her past that she did not want to revisit. She talks to readers as if talking to a friend, complaining, scheming, and sharing secrets. She walks dogs for “wealthy” customers. She gets outdoors; it is easy; all in all it is a good gig. She occasionally helps herself to “little” things, but her customers are so rich that they never miss those things. Then she meets someone, someone fantastic and rich. She feels like she has won the grand prize of life.
Hawkins carefully intertwines Jane’s idyllic life with her questionable past, and Jane is not the only one with an earlier secret that has a significant implication in the present. The story takes a dark turn, and the startling shadowy side of characters is exposed. There is another narrative, something sinister and intense, one that speaks of violence. The story that started slowly, happily, blissfully even, suddenly implodes, crumbling around everyone. Someone is a murderer.
“The Wife Upstairs” asks questions, big questions, “Just who is the victim?” and more importantly “What do we do now?” The answers are intricate and shocking. I received a review copy of “The Wife Upstairs” from Rachel Hawkins and St. Martin’s Press. It is hard to write a detailed review without spoilers, so I will simply say that the drama starts with the title and cascades downward from there. It is more compelling with the turn of every page.