The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Ever since I absolutely fell in love with Local Woman Missing, I have been wanting to get my hands on another Mary Kubica. The only reason it took me so long is that I was a teensy bit afraid nothing would live up to Local Woman Missing – still top of my list for best mystery/thriller of 2021!

I shouldn’t have worried – The Other Mrs. pulled me in and for a huge chunk of the book I had no idea what was going on. Only suspicions – a few of which were confirmed and one which played out only in a tangential way. Kubica’s writing is so superb, and I love how she weaves everything you need to know into the story, so that when you look back at the full tapestry, the truth was there all along.

image from amazon.com

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Mini Plot Summary: Sadie, her husband Will, and their two children (Otto, age 14, and Tate, age 5) move to a tiny island off the coast of Maine to take guardianship of their niece Imogen, whose mother has recently died. It’s a necessary change: Sadie and Will are struggling with infidelity, although Will claims he never cheated. Sadie’s professional ethics have been called into question. And Otto had an extreme and dangerous reaction to being bullied at school. But their new home is not the fresh start they hoped for. Imogen is angry and scary. Otto is withdrawn. And then one of their neighbors is murdered – and Sadie fears that one of her family members might be involved. 

What I Liked About This Book: Let me just get this out of the way: I disliked the main character with a fiery passion. Sadie seems so removed from her children’s lives, and so reluctant to be a guardian to her niece – whom she refers to as “Will’s relative”! And she has seemingly no sympathy or compassion for Imogen’s completely understandable rage. Plus, she seems completely incapable of being a good mother to her sons. Will, on the other hand, seems to be the perfect father and husband – present and engaged in his kids’ lives, and happy to do all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry even though he also teaches college courses. Sadie seems totally unwilling to make things work with her new colleagues, and takes zero responsibility for anything that happened in her past life. And she’s completely wound up in the murder of a woman she didn’t even know. As a physician, WHY is she not considering counseling for ANY of her family members???? I just hated her so, so much. And yet that is the power and the magic of Mary Kubica’s storytelling, because never once did I even think of closing the book and saying goodbye forever to Sadie Foust. No. I had to find out what was going on. Even though she was a horrible person, she felt very real to me. We get such insight into her inner thoughts and emotional processing that I didn’t doubt for a second that she would ignore her own very troubled family while becoming obsessed with the death of a neighbor. 

I also loved the setting. This remote Maine island is perfect for a murder, and the swirling snow really added to the overall chill of the book. 

The multi-narrative structure worked really well for me here, too. We got little glimpses of the characters that eventually all fit together in one nice, clear picture. 

What I Didn’t Like About This Book: Okay, so I wasn’t wild about the Big Twist. At some point, I suspected it was coming and whined to my husband about how I didn’t want that to be the twist, because it felt easy, and like many things I’d read before. But once I got past the fact that, yes, this was happening, I was able to sink back into the story and enjoy how it ended. 

There was only one other thing I actively disliked. There’s this point where Sadie is trying to figure out who killed Morgan, and she does something that not only seemed completely uncharacteristic but also straight-up bonkerballs. And then there were no consequences, no follow up, and no mention of it ever again. There was a purpose to this little sideline – Sadie learns something important. But it just felt like a total wild hare that could have been handled differently. 

Should You Read This Book? This is a perfect winter weather thriller. And if you like hateful protagonists, and “locked-room” style mysteries, this one is for you. There were plenty of twists and turns – none particularly surprising for me, but still enough that I felt myself questioning my guesses up to the very end. Definitely a chilling, page-turning read.

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