Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.
Is murder on her mind—or is it all in her head?
The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her… or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?
I remember seeing The Pocket Wife everywhere for a while a year or so ago and thinking it was a book I wouldn’t mind reading. But, somehow, it never went further than that until I saw it at the library a few weeks ago – at which point I picked it up, without much thought or, if I’m honest much in the way of expectations.
In fact, if people hadn’t started saying how much they enjoyed it when I posted a picture of my library haul I may well have ended up taking it back unread as other books I had picked up that day were definitely higher up my to read list. If I had, then I would have been missing out on something because people were right – this was a really good book and I really enjoyed it.
It starts with Dana waking up with a hangover and a bad feeling, a feeling made worse when she sees the emergency services at her neighbours house – the neighbour she had spent the afternoon with – and the news isn’t good. Her neighbour is dead and it looks like Dana is the last one to see her alive. I say looks like because as the story unfolds there are plenty of suspects other than Dana for you to wonder about.
There’s the victim’s husband, Dana’s husband, and the son of the detective investigating the case (so a nice complicated web). All have things to hide and I loved how their secrets slowly came out as the book progressed and how my opinions of them changed as the book went on.
Dana, I felt for straight away, especially when it became clear that she was suffering from bi-polar disorder and was going through a manic episode, explaining her behaviour but also adding a different dimension to her as an unreliable character. This isn’t someone who is simply not telling the truth. This is someone who doesn’t necessarily know what the truth is.
I have commented before how I am always wary of how mental illness is portrayed in books, especially where are here it is central to the plot but I thought it was handled well here. It felt well researched and believable. It is interesting to hear Dana’s thoughts as her mind spirals out of her control and see how her behaviour could easily have led to her acting rashly and maybe – just maybe – have killed her neighbour.
Her version of events and story alternate with that of Max, the lead detective, who I found very sympathetic and interesting in his own right. He has a back story, as all detectives seems to have, that includes a dysfunctional family but it wasn’t so over the top as to not be believable. The linking of his son to the case was a bit of a leap but one I was prepared to make because I was enjoying myself so much.
I know enjoying might be an odd phrase for a book about murder but it’s true here. I found myself engrossed in the story, intrigued by the characters and caught up in the twists and turns Crawford plotted. For me, there was little to dislike, and I can’t but recommend it to anyone looking for a good psychological thriller.