Book Reviews

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane – Book Review

The book cover for Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane – Book Details

TITLE – Pretty Little Wife

AUTHOR – Darby Kane

GENREmystery, thriller, suspense



MY RATING – 4.5 of 5


What It Is About

“Most people don’t kill to get out of a marriage.”
He nodded. “But some do.”

Lila Ridgefield’s husband Aaron is the last one to disappear in a line of missing people. All cases that seemed to have nothing in common, but now people are wondering and making connections.

Everyone in town hopes Aaron, a beloved high school professor, is alive and well. Everyone but his wife, who knows for a fact he is dead – but why is his body not where she knows it should be?

Everything should have gone smoothly. How did things suddenly start to seem way more sinister than anyone expected?

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane – My Review

The thick paper felt heavy under her fingers as she slipped it out of its hiding place. A typed message in block letters.

This was such a case of when a book finds you in an exact moment you’d enjoy it the most! I was so much in a mood for a mystery that would be both exciting and kind of relaxing at the same time. And this one felt so good.

First, I love when a book has short chapters, it’s easier to pick it up whenever I have little pockets of time for reading. Also, the writing style was great, one of those that you don’t even notice in the background, just the way I like them.

And then, the vibes…

Pretty Little Wife is a murder mystery set in an idyllic college town in central New York State. It is a relatively small town, not one of those where everyone knows everyone, but small enough to feel cozy.

The story is set in the early fall (I think he disappears around the end of September). Partly school setting, but definitely not a dark academia. Perfect for this time of year, when autumn is still not quite here but the first signs slowly start to sneak in.

In the fall, the area would be awash in color and the population would almost double in size due to student and tourist traffic.
Bright oranges and reds.

So the story starts when Lila, the wife, discovers something horrible about her husband Aaron. And we don’t know right at the beginning what was it that she’d found, but it’s clear it’s bad.

Usually the manipulated party doesn’t know they are being manipulated, but we meet Lila at the moment when she becomes very much aware of what’s going on. Which was quite refreshing and it hooked me from the start.

He’d sweet-talk and push, and now she recognized every move as manipulation. Nothing more than a long con that she’d fallen for until he’d gone one step too far.

And their marriage already wasn’t going well. The guy is a manipulator, one of those condescending types you just want to smash in the face. The kind you can’t wait for someone to kill him.

Lila wasn’t happy with him for a really long time, but was trying to maintain a peaceful life. But this thing that happens really pushes her over the edge. And she decides to… take the matters into her own hands.

Except that things go horribly bad. And now her husband is officially missing. The police treats her as the most likely suspect. And then the anonymous notes start to arrive.

So – yeah, suspense at its best.

She’d turned the mystery over in her head. Spun it around, flipped it over. Nothing she did, no matter how much she reasoned it out, led to a comprehensible answer. Was he alive? Injured? Playing with her?

Lila as a main character was quite interesting to follow. She was deeply wounded, but also fascinating and enigmatic. Her ice cold demeanor is a pretty façade for a moral compass that is not exactly in tune with most people’s, but it’s there.

She went through so much, I didn’t feel like I could relate at all. Which made things interesting. Her character was really well written; she just wasn’t someone you can think for – well, I’d do the same thing.

It seems that the whole world’s gone obsessed with true crime and podcasts. And in Pretty Little Wife, there’s a local crime podcast that discusses the missing people’s cases, including Aaron’s and the girls’ who’ve gone missing before him. It added another little layer to the story and provided a perspective of people who weren’t directly involved.

The plot and most of the twists weren’t exactly unpredictable. You can tell the who fairly early into the book. And then the rest of the story helps you shape the idea of what and why better and better. There were smaller surprises towards the end, but nothing too shocking.

But luckily, figuring it out didn’t ruin the read for me. It was still an entertaining story and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The hours lapsed into a foreboding silence as if she were on the edge of something so menacing, so unexpected, that she could not afford the vulnerability of sleep.

Still not sure what to think of that ending. It’s not exactly that I didn’t like it, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way. And I think I know what it was, but – spoilers.

But it put a question mark on some things that were supposed to be facts. And not in a good way, but more in an are-you-sure-you-plotted-this-well kind of way. The main plot was still solid, only some smaller details weren’t adding up.

It actually happened several times throughout the book that we got contradictory details that didn’t really match. And I enjoyed the book so much, I let it all slide. The ending was the first time it genuinely bothered me.

What I loved, though, was that, even though this book touches on some pretty gruesome things, it wasn’t near as graphic as it could have been. For the most part, the story felt… not exactly cozy, but it had some chillness to it.

As if playing the role of pretty little wife were a gift and not a life sentence of boredom.

Domestic thrillers have got a lot of eye rolls lately, but that’s because there are so many of them and after you read a couple of dozen, you just got to think – if I read about just one more depressed alcoholic wife…

But if you don’t read them often – a lot of them are actually pretty good. And Pretty Little Wife ended up being one of my favorites. I’m really glad I’ve read it and I can only recommend it to everyone…

My Signature

(2) Comments

  1. Hi I found you on Twitter and seen your blog. 😊
    I might have to pick this one back up. I’ve tried to get into Pretty Little Wife… don’t know why I couldn’t get into this one.
    Love your thoughts and I will have to give this one another try. 😊

    1. Well, hi there, Twitter friend! 😊

      Yeah, I liked it quite a bit. And I know we all have different tastes, so if it’s not your thing, that’s cool. But if you think you maybe just weren’t in the mood for it when you tried reading it, then yup – this one might be worth giving a second chance…


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