The Innocent Wife is a claustrophobic, atmospheric and creepy psychological thriller.
Samantha is a 31-year-old school teacher from England who is drawn to the story of Dennis Danson, who has been arrested and imprisoned for the murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. He is on death row for this heinous crime. But many people, including Samantha, believe Dennis is innocent. There are many questions about the original case, and back when Dennis was standing trial as an 18-year-old, to Samantha’s eyes, he just seemed too handsome and charming to be a murderer.
Samantha and Dennis begin exchanging letters just as another true-crime documentary is being filmed, hoping to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted. Samantha decides to leave England and come and visit Dennis in prison – and not long after she has completely given up her old life to marry him and campaign for his release.
But when the campaign is successful, Samantha is thrown into a marriage with a man who is different from what she first thought, and she finds herself being increasingly afraid as new facts and behaviours begin to emerge. Was Dennis the victim of a conspiracy, which he has taken the fall for – or is he a coldblooded killer? To make things more complicated, is it Samantha’s insecurities that are really to blame for her current state of mind?
This is a page-turning thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end, and it piles on the psychological tension as the story progresses. Dennis remains an enigma, in many ways, while the reader learns enough about Samantha’s life to feel very worried about her mental state. The Innocent Wife becomes increasingly creepy as the novel comes to a dramatic conclusion. Probably not to be read late at night, but very compelling nonetheless.
Penguin Random House, RRP $37.00