The Widower’s Wife: Cate Holahan
What would you do if you life took a financial downward turn; your wife is hard at work and you hard at drinking and collecting women? What would you do in order to create a better life for yourself, pretend to be a loving husband who wants forgiveness for his many transgressions leaving their three year old daughter possibly without a mother if this conniving, useless, sociopath husband can figure out a plan that will convince an insurance investigator, the police and even his wife that sometimes staying dead will make everyone happy and of course rich. When an insurance investigator named Ryan Monahan gets thrown into the mix to solve this case and decide whether someone ahs committed the perfect murder or did Ana Bacon really jump over the side of a ship, was she pushed or did someone kill her? Accidental death, suicide or murder? Those are the questions going through his head and that of his ex-police partner Vivian who assists him every step of the way as they try to understand the mind of a killer. Ana Bacon was smart, took care of her child and worked for Derivative Capital as the administrative assistant to Michael Smith. Smith on the surface appeared to be a great boss paying her quite a bit of money to work long hours, research his clients, set up his meetings and make sure everything ran in schedule. But, Ana wanted more from her job and wanted in one some of the meetings with hedge potential clients hoping to get a raise and move up in the company. Ana’s wishes would have been granted but after her first attempt at meeting, which was successful, her boss made sure that there was a serious hitch and stipulation if she wanted to remain employed. With his cards on the table you might say Ana has to decide whether to give in to his wishes or better yet she kneed him and lost her job. This was the start of events that would lead to not only her downfall but Tom’s too. If she played this right maybe she might come out with some money. With her parents supposedly threatened for protection money, her father beaten by thugs she was not only supporting her family but her parents in Brazil too and Tom wanted no part of either. He devised a plan that would end their financial problems by managing to get enough money from her boss namely 14 thousand dollars, pay for passage on a cruise ship, take out a five million dollar insurance policy with a double indemnity clause, and hopefully collect. Tom waited patiently when Ana supposedly fell overboard on the ship, was supposed to swim to Biminis and then hopefully join Tom and her daughter under a different name. But, Ryan Monahan is smart, statistics driven who at one time was a NYPD cop, injured, bad leg, limps but adorable, and determined to get to the bottom of what he knows is insurance fraud and murder. Although Tom’s alibi for the time of death or fall is solid we later learn that he is great at manipulating facts, creating scenes that don’t exist and has enlisted the help of someone he refers to as Auntie Eve, a close cousin to care for Sophie his daughter, when in reality they had a different kind of relationship. Three people saw him at the ship’s pool when his wife went over the side. She was seasick, nauseous and although hoping to swim the distance having paid these smugglers for a trip back to the states what happens in reality you will hear from Ana as the author flashes back and forth between the present and the investigation and how Ana and Tom’s lives unraveled and the plan that was devised. Added in she realizes that she is pregnant and might not be able to complete the swim in her present condition. So, Tom takes aim and gets the job done in his own way. The chapters go back and forth between the past and the present so that readers can hear Ana’s voice, her fears, frustrations and her hope to create a better life for Sophie knowing that she might lose more than just her daughter but her life too. Throughout the novel we hear Ryan’s voice expressing how he thinks the case should be handled, dealing with the many different players as he investigates Tom, goes after Michael Smith and eventually comes to realize that he just might not foil Tom. Dealing with some of the neighbors he gets mixed views about Tom and his relationship with Ana. Lies are at the root of the novel as Tom creates his own world filled with lies and deceptions that he actually believes as Ana creates her own. Those that Ryan interviews that were at the scene of the pool at the time when Ana went over have different stories. The ship’s security system and cameras when viewed showed her going over the edge and her body not found. The author creates a special timeline of events dating back a few months before the fateful cruise as we learn just how devious Tom is when persuading Ana to go along with his scheme. Working as an administrator at a hedge fund company, dealing with their lives, not once do either of them stop and think that they are doing something illegal or wrong. Their only response is to save themselves financially before the final nail in their financial coffin is hit. But, Ryan is smart, astute and with the help of Vivian and her new partner David they hope to unravel what Tom has created. When dealing with Michael Smith they uncover even more about his past, his relationships as they hope to take him down too.
As Ryan speaks to Camilla the maid who took care of Sophie and learns more about Tom and his relationship with Ana we also hear from Lena his latest conquest and we learn about Eve’s jealous side, her cruelty to Sophie and the fact that placing her with her father and Eve might mean her death too. Memories are precious and parents should be remembered except when those memories will hurt and destroy. So, how do we deal with a four year old who might not have a chance in life without either parent? What will Tom’s fate be? What about Ana? Is she dead? Is Ana smart? Can she outsmart what someone has put into place? Is she worth more dead or alive? This is a complicated plot with many different endings as you will see as author Cate Holahan takes us deep inside the minds of those who commit insurance fraud, money laundering, womanizing, deceits, lies and determine who wins who loses the Widower’s Wife or the Husband? An ending that will astound readers as Ryan has to make a moral judgment and decision and will leave readers wondering just who if anyone plays by the rules.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine