The Pocket Wife by Susan H Crawford is a noir thriller with terrific characters and a puzzle of a murder mystery. This is modern day Hitchcockian crime novel from a fresh new voice.
Dana Catrell is wife on the edge of her sanity. Recovering from a past of addiction and emotional instability, she finds herself and her marriage challenged by her neighbor who has a picture of Dana’s husband and another woman. They argue about it over drinks and then Dana doesn’t really remember what happened after that. The next thing she knows is her neighbor, Celia, is found dead in a pool of blood.
Detective Jack Moss picks up the case, but he has his own reasons for wanting to find out who murdered Celia. A broken marriage and a failure at fatherhood, Jack finds himself drawn to the case and the possible connection it may have to his last remaining son. Jack finds Dana as a possible suspect, but soon finds that there is much more to this crime than meets the eye.
Dana finds her husbands behavior strange and his reluctance to engage in conversation over the murder of their neighbor even so. She slowly begins to realize that there may have been more to her husband and Celia’s relationship and perhaps Celia’s desire to show Dana the picture was fueled by more than sisterhood. But at the center of it all is Dana’s knowledge that her grip on her own sanity is tenuous at best. Could half of what she believes to be true be solely in her mind.
The Pocket wife is told through the eyes and mind of the two main characters in Dana and Jack. But it is Dana who drives the novel and in her Susan Crawford has created a main character who is both courageous and maddening. Her emotional laspes leave the reader at times wondering if her narrative is factual or all in her mind. So like Dana, the reader left to sift through the clues and then determine which are true and which are not. The story evolves and opens with various clues dropping here and there. You will miss them at first and then as it goes forward, the reader will realize…”Hey, wait a second…” exactly. This is that kind of book. A terrific mystery with rich characters that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.
A terrific debut novel and a great read.