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Reviewed in Australia on 5 December 2021
I've long been a fan of Kim's work and am always eagerly anticipating her next. With psychological and domestic suspense entwined with a bit of a "whodunnit", THE WIDOW is a little bit different with a real mystery at the heart of this thriller. An intriguing tale, as readers we are left with wanting to know more as Kim skillfully dangles clues in our quest for the truth.

The story opens with an excavation of a field on the Wadebridge estate as Kate Shaw surveys the police activity in front of her. Behind her reporters bustle for her attention, calling out to her, but she ignores them. On the public footpath that cuts through the woods beside the estate, villagers gather and watch the foray whilst Kate can feel the weight of their icy glares in her direction. They blame her, she knows. Her husband Michael had worked this estate for over twenty years and as land and property manager knew the estate inside out. He was certainly in a position to dispose of anything or anyone under a blanket of darkness while the rest of the village slept. And now there are questions relating to the disappearance of a Polish woman with whom Michael had had daily contact. Kate knows the village believes she knows something. But what? She only knows that she has lost the love of her life to a tragic accident leaving her a widow and her 6 year old daughter fatherless.

Kate, Michael and their daughter Tansy live in the close-knit village of Lynwick in Nottinghamshire. And up until recently, their lives there had been happy. But then Suzy Baros moves into the village with her young son Aleks, taking up residence in one of the cottages on the Wadebridge estate thanks to Irene Wadebridge, owner and matriarch of the estate. Kate tries to befriend Suzy but the young Polish woman is skittish and appearingly afraid of her own shadow.

Things are not helped with Kate's best friend Donna's husband's roving eye is caught by the beautiful woman. Paul Thatcher is known for his infidelities and try and Kate might, Donna wouldn't have a cross word said about him, taking him back after each slight. But this time Paul is intent on gaining Suzy's attentions.

But then at the early Christmas lights event, Suzy Baros disappears leaving her young son scared and distraught. Kate immediately takes him in placating the young boy with the hope of finding his mother. But Suzy is not found...and then the police come knocking wanting to ask Michael some questions about the missing woman. Kate at once becomes suspicious when Michael lies to the police about knowing another missing person from Poland and she begins to wonder why. But her ponderings are cut short when she receives the devastating news that Michael has been killed after stepping out in front of a lorry on his way home from being questioned by the police. Was it an accident? Or was it suicide?

And then Kate receives a troubling letter. The villagers want her out. They want her to come clean about what she knows about her husband and then to leave their pristine village. Kate has seen this type of bullying tactic before by the village, hiding behind the facade of a letter or a legality or whatever, but in the end the result is always the same. The villagers get what they want...and ultimately win.

But what has Kate got to hide? Michael was innocent, surely? But the fact that Suzy was not the first person to go missing in Lynwick brings the one common denominator between them to the forefront of the police investigation. Michael. But that's just coincidence, surely? Or is it? Whatever the case may be, Kate finds herself the focus of blame by those she had once laughed and chatted with; those she had passed in the street and shared a smile; some of those she had called friends. Now she is ostracised and the only one on her side is Donna.

THE WIDOW is a thrilling tale as Kim takes us on a journey from Poland to Nottinghamshire through the eyes of various narrators, though primarily Kate. It certainly is a different story to those offered to us previously but still an enjoyable tale. There were a couple of unanswered questions by the end, most notably the discovery of two sets of remains found nearby but without an explanation as to why as neither story interconnected. The ending didn't pack that usual K.L. Slater punch, but it was still satisfactory.

I had my usual theories throughout, some of them often changing, but by the end I had guessed correctly...even the twist that was thrown in seemingly out of left field. But I couldn't be hoodwinked this time as I knew to look where others failed to...and pondered on my own suspicions. THE WIDOW is still full of secrets, lies, and twists to keep it moving along at a steady pace throughout. It is still a good solid read by Kim that was engaging and enjoyable.

The story is dominated with strong female characters, though not too strong. I liked the investigating officer, DI Helena Price and her offsider DS Brewster, who brought the whodunnit aspect to the forefront. I liked Kate but I did wonder why she was quick to defend Michael when she also found evidence that should have left her questioning him. Donna's denial of her husband's infidelities and disregard of her drove me mad. How could she not see her husband's blatant roving eye? Everyone else could and he shamelessly did it front of her!

Overall, THE WIDOW is an enjoyable and intriguing tale that will have you turning the pages in anticipation of the truth. What happened to Suzy Baros? To Jakub Jasinski? And is the disappearance of a teenage girl twenty three years ago connected? A thrilling read that does not disappoint even if some loose ends were left dangling by the end.
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