When A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick first rocked the NYT Bestseller List, I saw it in an airport. I thought it looked like a glorified romance novel – seriously, look at that cover. And the summary on the back:
“He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for a “reliable wife.” She responded, saying that she was “a simple, honest woman.” She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving herself a wealthy widow. What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own.”
Well, I was up for some brain candy.
It is a bit of a glorified romance novel, but it isn’t mindless. What you have is three intertwined stories of betrayal and heartbreak and the possibility of redemption.
I can’t say the “plot twists” were particularly surprising. The thing that was surprising?
When Catherine begins to poison Truitt, he knows. Immediately knows. He doesn’t confront her and doesn’t try to stop her. He seems to think this is the logical conclusion. That his death might bring a sort of peace to everyone.
Just then, the book went from being entertaining to something near compelling.
The rest of the story unfolds in a reasonably believable way. Goolrick does a good job of portraying complicated, conflicted characters such that I was rooting for all of them. Even that jackass, Antonio – I held out hope for him. The end was satisfying.
Overall good read.