Pretty Little WifePretty Little Wife by Darby Kane
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on December 29, 2020
Pages: 416
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: four-half-stars

Debut author Darby Kane thrills with this twisty domestic suspense novel that asks one central question: shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?
Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems.A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….
With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

Bantering Books Review

Holy smokes, that was good!

Pretty Little Wife, Darby Kane’s thrilling novel of domestic suspense, has kicked off my 2021 with a bang. A very loud, kick-the-door-down kind of bang. A bang that will be ringing in my ears for quite some time, unable to be forgotten.

Lila Ridgefield is the quintessential pretty little wife. Married to Aaron, a beloved high school teacher in Ithaca, her life is enviable to those on the outside. But life is not always as wonderful as it seems, of course, and when Aaron suddenly vanishes, the town is thrown into a frenzy.

Because Aaron’s disappearance is not the first in Ithaca. His is only the most recent in a string of three women who have mysteriously vanished over the last few years. With the public demanding answers, the police are scrambling to find a link – if one even exists.

The one person not seemingly worried about Aaron? Lila – his pretty little wife.

But you see, she is worried. Only for a different reason. For not only is Lila the last person to see Aaron alive – she is also the last person to see him dead. And now, his body is no longer where she left it.

Oh, what a tangled, dark, and contorted web Kane has weaved inside the pages of Pretty Little Wife. And the web begins with one of the most gripping opening scenes in a suspense novel that I have ever read.

Seriously. I write this with the utmost sincerity. The novel’s initial chapter is one of the best I have ever come across. It leaves you completely breathless because it’s written so amazingly well. Within a span of a few sentences, Kane instantly drops you into the midst of Lila’s complex mind, and then she takes off running at top speed, leaving you flailing behind.

The novel is intense, exciting, and smart. There is never a dull moment, and the pages turn at an astonishing rate because it is nearly impossible to put the book down.

And the story will keep you on your toes. It is tightly written and seamlessly plotted, and there are unexpected twists and fun red herrings galore, making it so I never felt confident in any of my arm-chair theories. Even when I finally did put the correct pieces into place, I continued to waffle back and forth . . . and back and forth. . . and then, back and forth again, due to Kane’s superb skills of misdirection.

Pretty Little Wife, however, would not be the exceptional novel that it is without Lila. She is enigmatic and fascinating. Extremely intelligent and resourceful. Focused and strong. My personal feelings for her ran the gamut while I read the novel, as she is so complex. But ultimately, I always liked her, and I couldn’t stop myself from rooting for her, regardless of her cool demeanor, misdeeds, and questionable morals.

In fact, I enjoyed all the women in the novel. Kane injects every one of her female characters with a cleverness, a fierceness, and a formidableness that is not consistently seen in this genre.

And had it not been for a slightly too-quick final showdown that contained one or two implausible actions of the characters, I would have awarded Pretty Little Wife a full five stars.

Because it’s that addictive. It’s that compelling. It’s that excellent.

Do not miss it.

My sincerest appreciation to William Morrow and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.