“A dark and irresistible debut.”—People
“Will shock even the savviest suspense readers.”—Real Simple
Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.
We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Samantha Downing currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next thrilling standalone. My Lovely Wife is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing
***This excerpt is from an advance, uncorrected proof***
She is looking at me. Her blue eyes are glassy, they flicker down to her drink and back up. I look at my own drink and can feel her watching, wondering if I’m as interested as she is. I glance over and smile to show her I am. She smiles back. Most of her lipstick is gone, now a reddish smear on the rim of her glass. I walk over and take the seat next to her.
She fluffs her hair. It is unremarkable in both color and length. Her lips move, she says hello, and her eyes are brighter. They look backlit.
Physically, I appeal to her the same way I would appeal to most women in this bar. I am thirty-nine, in excellent shape with a full head of hair and a deep set of dimples, and my suit fits better than any glove. That’s why she looked at me, why she smiled, why she is happy I have come over to join her. I am the man she has in mind.
I slide my phone across the bar toward her. It displays a message.
Hello. My name is Tobias.
She reads it and crinkles her brow, looking back and forth between the phone and me. I type another message.
I am deaf.
Her eyebrows shoot up, she covers her mouth with one hand, and the pink rises on her skin. Embarrassment looks the same on everyone.
She shakes her head at me. Sorry, so sorry. She did not know.
Of course you didn’t. How could you?
She smiles. It is not quite whole.
I am no longer the picture in her head, no longer the man she imagined, but now she isn’t sure what to do.
She picks up my phone and types back.
A pleasure to meet you, Petra. You are Russian?
My parents were.
I nod and smile. She nods and smiles. I can see her mind churning.
She would rather not stay with me. She wants to go find a man who can hear her laugh and does not have to type out his words.
At the same time, her conscience tells her not to discriminate. Petra does not want to be the shallow woman who refuses a man because he is deaf. She doesn’t want to turn me down the way so many others have.
Or so she assumes.
Her internal battle is like a three-act play unfolding before my eyes, and I know how it ends. At least most of the time.
Her first question is about my hearing, or lack of it. Yes, I have been deaf from birth. No, I have never heard anything—not a laugh, not a voice, not a puppy barking or a plane overhead.
Petra gives me a sad face. She does not realize this is patronizing, and I don’t tell her, because she is trying. Because she stays.
She asks if I can read lips. I nod. She starts to talk.
“When I was twelve, I broke my leg in two places. Bike accident.” Her mouth moves in the most exaggerated, grotesque way. “Anyway, I had to wear a cast that went from my foot all the way up to my thigh.” She stops, draws a line across her thigh in case I have trouble understanding. I don’t, but I appreciate the attempt. And the thigh.
She continues. “I couldn’t walk at all for six weeks. At school, I had to use a wheelchair, because the cast was too heavy for crutches.”
I smile, half imagining little Petra with a big cast. Half imagining where this sad story is heading.
“I’m not saying I know what it’s like to live in a wheelchair, or to have any permanent disability. I just always feel like . . . well, it feels like I’ve had a small taste of what it would be like, you know?”
She smiles with relief, afraid her story might have offended me.
You are very sensitive.
She shrugs. Beams at the compliment.
We have another drink.
I tell her a story that has nothing to do with being deaf. I tell her about my childhood pet, a frog named Sherman. He was a bullfrog who sat on the biggest rock in the pond and hogged all the flies. I never tried to catch Sherman; I would just watch him, and sometimes he watched me, too. We liked to sit together, and I started calling him my pet.
“What happened to him?” Petra asks.
One day the rock was empty. Never saw him again.
Petra says this is sad. I tell her it isn’t. Sad would’ve been finding his dead body and being forced to bury him. I never had to do that. I just imagined he went to a bigger pond with more flies.
She likes this and tells me so.
I do not tell her everything about Sherman. For instance, he had a long tongue that darted around so fast I could hardly see it, but I always wanted to grab it. I used to sit by the pond and wonder how bad of a thought that was. How terrible was it to try and grab a frog’s tongue? And would it hurt him? If he died, would it be murder? I never tried to grab his tongue and probably couldn’t have anyway, but I thought about it. And that made me feel like I wasn’t a good friend to Sherman.
Petra tells me about her cat, Lionel, who is named after her childhood cat, also named Lionel. I tell her that’s funny, but I’m not sure it is. She shows me pictures. Lionel is a tuxedo cat, with a face divided between black and white. He is too stark to be cute.
She continues to talk and shifts to her work. She brands products and companies, and she says it’s both the easiest and the most difficult thing. Difficult in the beginning, because it’s so hard to get anyone to remember anything, but as more people start to recognize a brand, it becomes easy.
“At some point, it doesn’t even matter what we’re selling. The brand becomes more important than the product.” She points to my phone and asks if I bought it because of the name or because I like the phone.
She smiles. “See. You aren’t even sure.”
I guess not.
“What do you do?”
She nods. It is the least exciting profession in the world, but it is solid, stable, and something a deaf guy can easily do. Numbers don’t speak with a voice.
The bartender comes over. He is neat and clean, college-aged. Petra takes charge of the ordering, and it is because I am deaf. Women always think I need to be taken care of. They like to do things for me because they think I am weak.
Petra secures us two more drinks and a fresh bowl of snacks, and she smiles like she is proud of herself. It makes me laugh. Silently, but still a laugh.
She leans toward me and puts her hand on my arm. Leaves it there. She has forgotten I am not her ideal man, and our progression is now predictable. It’s not long before we go to her place. The decision is easier than it should be, though not because I find her particularly attractive. It is the choice. She gives me the power to decide, and right now I am a man who says yes.
Petra lives downtown, close to the bar, in the middle of all the big branding signs. Her place is not as neat as I’d expected. There is clutter everywhere: papers and clothes and dishes. It makes me think she loses her keys a lot.
“Lionel is around here somewhere. Hiding, probably.”
I don’t look for that stark cat.
She flits around, dropping her bag in one place and removing her shoes in another. Two glasses appear, filled with red wine, and she leads me into the bedroom. She turns to face me, smiling. Petra has become more attractive—even her plain hair seems to sparkle. It is the alcohol, yes, but it’s also her happiness. I get the feeling she has not been this happy in a while, and I’m not sure why. Petra is attractive enough.
She presses up against me, her body warm, her breath soaked in wine. She takes the glass out of my hand and puts it down.
I do not finish drinking it until much later, when we are in the dark and the only light is from my phone. We type back and forth, making fun of ourselves and the fact that we do not know each other.
Lime green. Ice cream?
Bubble gum? The blue stuff?
Who says that?
What’s your favorite?
French vanilla. Pizza topping?
We’re done here.
Wait, are we still talking about pizza?
We are not talking about pizza.
Afterward, she dozes off first. I think about leaving, then about staying, and the idea bounces around so long I doze off.
When I wake up, it’s still dark. I slip out of the bed without waking Petra. She is sleeping facedown, one leg askew and her hair spread out on the pillow. I cannot decide if I really like her or not, so I don’t decide at all. I do not have to.
On the nightstand, her earrings. They are made of colored glass, a swirl of blue shades, and they look like her eyes. After getting dressed, I slip the earrings into my pocket. I take them to remind myself not to do this again. I almost believe it will work.
I walk toward the front door without looking back.
“Are you really deaf?”
She says it out loud, to my back.
I hear her because I am not deaf.
And I keep moving.
I pretend I don’t hear her, go straight to the door and shut it behind me, then continue until I am out of her building, down the block, and around the corner. It is only then that I stop and wonder how she figured it out. I must have slipped.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fast easy read about a husband and wife who like to murder people. Surprising twists.
I started reading My Lovely Wife on 4/10/2019 and finished it on 4/15/2019 at 12:10am. This book is a fantastic read! I like that this thriller has a new angle, focusing on family and how serial killers affect their children. It’s definitely interesting when killers are portrayed as family people instead of a loner because it’s harder to distinguish that they do bad things when they look so normal. I like the narrator, especially his relationship with his children. This book is told in the first person point of view following a man pretending to be deaf and called himself Tobias. He went into a bar and left with a woman he just met for a one-night stand. Then he came home to his wife, Millicent and children, Rory and Jenna. His wife asked him if he found the one and he said no even though she was. Then he went out to scout a new woman. The story slowly reveals the wife’s intentions and what they do together as their extracurricular activities. The wife appeared to have secrets even the husband doesn’t know and then the husband also keeps secrets from his wife that his clever son found out and used it to blackmail him. The story sprinkled bits of their past over different chapters, how he first met his wife and how things started happening. My Lovely Wife is very well written and a fast paced read. like how secrets are slowly being revealed. Readers know as much as the narrator, which is not much at times because he afraid to ask the details from his wife. I do like that he does his own research to gain some knowledge when his wife doesn’t volunteer the information. The wife is a mystery until the end, though she seems to be a good mom focusing on eating healthy organic foods and taking away her children’s computer at night to keep them safe from predators online. The family aspects is good but at the same time lacks the thrill in a thriller for me. I still like their family routine and I do recommend everyone to read this book! Pro: fast paced, page turner, family, lies, secrets, Con: lacking the thrills I rate it 4.5 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Berkley Publishing for inviting me to host a blog tour. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
I liked that this book was coming from the viewpoint of the serial killers and their story. And following their story is quite a ride. The ups and downs that this family goes through in this book is certainly enough to make anyone want to kill. This married couple gets a high from killing women and they take a lot of time preparing and choosing the perfect woman to be their mark. Until things start to effect their children this is a large part of what keeps their 15 year marriage in tact. This was a quick read and one really great roller coaster ride for anyone who likes physiological thrillers.
This book is a fantastic example of a great thriller. It is a slow burn but it drags into the story and keeps you there until you get to the end. I also loved the psychological aspects to this story and the fact that the author didn’t feel the need to get into the gory details or add things just for shock value, which I hate. Instead she sucks you into this family with a husband and wife who kill people. There is so much more to the story than that but I don’t want to give anything away. If you enjoy a good thriller, especially a more psychological one then this book is one you need to add to your list pronto!
This is a crime novel with some quite distinctive twists on the serial-killer theme. Firstly, this is no lone male, between the ages of twenty-five and fifty, living with his mother with no past meaningful relationships – so beloved of FBI profilers. This is a (supposedly) happily married couple, with teenage children, whom they (supposedly) love – who just happen to get thrills from killing women. The second twist is that the narrator is the serial-killer husband, and the whole story is from his point of view, and not that of the investigating police or a journalist. I found the husband (narrator) quite weak-willed and amoral (well, obviously!). He idolises Millicent, and will do ANYTHING to keep her happy – including stalking other women, and then delivering the victims to her. He is terrified of losing Millicent, and never questions her. Yet, he sleeps with one of his intended victims – and wisely keeps this from Millicent. I had Millicent down as a full-blown psychopath from soon after she was introduced. She was controlling, manipulative, and quite terrifying in her outwardly normal appearance. When you get to know Millicent, you have to wonder how many more female psychopaths are actually out there. You would like to put her twisted nature down to the torture she suffered at her sister’s hands as a child – but really, that is no excuse. The husband (we do not know his name) never shows any remorse for the deaths he has had a part in. Once a victim has been chosen, they lose their humanity and become meat for slaughter. Before the final choice, though, they may have a chance: “I want to know if I like her, dislike her, or feel nothing for her. But I won’t. I cannot take the chance that something will make me want to let her live.” When Millicent has the ‘brilliant’ idea of resurrecting a serial killer from the past, on whom to blame all their murders, things start to go wrong. Before this, there were no adverse consequences (the pain and suffering of the victims and their families does not count), but now the repercussions are directly affecting their children (Rory and Jenna) and friends – and that does matter. Things come to a head – and there is a major twist in proceedings. I did not exactly guess that twist, but it did not surprise me. Then, hard on its heels, a much bigger, bolder twist leading to a final showdown. I found the epilogue too neat and tidy, and rather unbelievable. Throughout the book I had been debating whether to award it 4 or 5 stars – and the epilogue nearly crashed it down to 3 stars. Then came the final sentence – and I had to re-evaluate all my previous suppositions. Had I really understood any of the characters at all? This book is a good read – a bit slow in places – but ultimately satisfying. You may never look at a blind man the same way again. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Honestly one of the best books I've read this year. Took the suggestion from Harlan Coban ob BookBub and I read it in one day. As good as Gillian Flynn, and just as twisted, really nails the crazy. Don't pass this one up!
"My Lovely Wife" by Samantha Downing takes the reader on a wild ride of a married suburban couple who find murder their special thing to share. Narrated by the husband, the story delves into their relationship history, their families, and their careers. They are the average suburban couple, with two kids and busy lives. And they enjoy getting away with murder. Slowly, he realizes his wife hasn't told him everything, just as he hasn't been up front with her about some of the women they've researched meticulously, abducted, and killed. And their games start to affect others in their lives in ways they never saw coming. Twisty and dark, this novel is well written and edgy, will keep you guessing to (almost) the end (although some of the plot points I did see coming, I wasn't as clear on the end game at first). Recommended for fans of Gillian Flynn, Lisa Unger, Paula Hawkins, Ruth Ware and other deeply psychological thrillers, particularly those focusing on relationships.
"Full of twists, well-drawn characters and riveting suspense," they said. "Clever, manipulative, dark and disturbing," they said. What do I say? If you have but one book in this genre to read before the end of this year, make it this one. Yeah, it's that good. Narrated by a man known only as Tobias, the plot follows his "love story" with his wife Millicent; at the beginning they were a perfect couple with a run-of-the-mill life. But before long, Millicent's job as a successful realtor in Woodview, Florida, and his as a club tennis pro turn boring; clearly, the marriage fire needs a bit of rekindling. Fanning the flames evolves into a murderous joint effort, and because they choose their victims with care, the plan works beautifully until one of the victims turns up unexpectedly. It's only a temporary setback, though; recalling the dastardly acts of years-ago local serial killer Owen Riley (who's no longer in jail and hasn't been seen in years), Tobias and Millicent decide to walk in his bloody footsteps in the hope he will get the blame. And get the blame he does. The local community, egged on by a persistent and competent journalist (and a little help from Tobias), is all a-titter (and a little bit scared), over the probability that Riley is back and on the prowl. Things couldn't be going better, until they don't; Tobias and Millicent failed to foresee the effect their clandestine activities would have on the lives of some of their friends and, worse, their beloved son and daughter. So now they face yet another dilemma: What to do, what to do? It's back to the drawing board for a new plan, and the only thing they know for sure is that it won't include giving up the extracurricular fun that's brought them closer together. Or not. My conclusion? Whew! It's a thrilling ride - and I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review it.
This book is like nothing I have read before ... in a good way of course but I am slightly worried that I may be moving onto the dark side of normal! Why? you may ask - just read this book and you'll understand! What we have here is an absolute gem of a read that had me hooked from the start. I won't go into the plot as I don't want to give anything away but will describe it as being edgy, dark, twisted, engrossing, disturbingly entertaining and totally unique. The characters are just excellent but more than that, they are frighteningly believable and rarely do I find myself feeling so wrong about liking and rooting for someone so disturbed but scarily normal! The writing is crisp and effective and easy to read with excellent pacing; great suspense and twists leave you reading way too late into the night in anticipation of what the heck is going to happen next. I can't believe this is a debut and I am waiting on tenterhooks for Samantha Downing's next book and I only hope it's as disturbingly good as this one. On her website, she says that she wants to "tell stories that make people walk into walls"; I think she did with this one. Thank you to the publisher, Penguin UK - Michael Joseph, and NetGalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
HOLY CRAP- Crazy good! I mean the book’s premise was already gaga, but the book itself is totally crazy! You think you already “see” the problem then Downing is like 'it's not gonna be that easy' and throws everything out the window and you’re left thinking“WTF!?” The chapters are super short, the writing flows and without giving anything away- the ending was both believable and left you wanting more. This book was definitely a psychological thriller! I loved the internal feedback of ‘Tobias’ and his thoughts. How is this Samantha Downing’s debut?! Seriously, so good
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing will keep you on the edge of your chair turning pages as quickly as you can. A seemingly "nice, normal" suburban couple decides to spice up their slightly stale marriage. The activity they choose will make your blood run cold and your hair stand on end. Millicent, the wife and mother is cold, efficient, organized, and unlikeable. The novel is written in the first person from the husband and father's point of view, so we never learn his name. He's very likeable, loves his children, and is totally controlled by his wife. As their crimes are discovered, and the net begins to close, one will betray another, and the last page will leave you gasping. In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free digital copy of this title to review from Net Galley. #MyLovelyWife#NetGalley
What a great premise for a mystery novel. A very likable husband-wife serial killing team... although naturally not everything is as it seems. Kept me reading late into the night. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series.
I started this book with doubts about both the main characters. Husband and wife, they just seemed odd. As I kept reading I realized how incredibly odd and scary they both were. While this could have been a stop, put this book down thought it was more of an Oh My Gosh, what are they going to do next? I knew the other shoe was going to drop, I knew that there was going to be that moment when the story shifted, and I was so looking forward to it. When the story changed paths, I was let down. I needed more; I wanted a more climatic event then what happens. I needed it to be as dramatic as the rest of the story was and it just didn’t happen that way. My Lovely Wife is a thriller, it is psychotic, and it is enthralling. I was pulled in and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end. I needed to know that the children in the book are safe and that the right people were held responsible for what was happening.
They did it before and they are about to do it again. What looks like the absolute average family in Hidden Oaks – the father a tennis coach, the mother in real estates and two lovely kids – is all but average. They have a secret, or better: secrets in plural since they have killed more than one woman. And they are looking for their next victim. They are clever, a lot cleverer than all the other inhabitants of their small community and most certainly smarter than the police who don’t even know that somebody is missing. Yet, every run of luck has an ending and theirs is about to come, isn’t it? Samantha Downing’s debut is a terrific thriller which combines the core emotions of human beings: love and hate. It’s masterly constructed and when you think you finally know what it all adds up to, you get a big surprise and a twist that takes suspense to another level. First of all, the couple at the centre of the novel. The story is told from the husband’s point of view – interestingly, he never gets a name, there are only his aliases when he makes contact with possible victims. The point of view is limited of course which will play a major role and undeniably helps to lead you to wrong assumptions. As a reader, I should have known better, but I fell easily prey to Downing. At the beginning, you get the impression that the parents are a bit different, even strange to a certain extent, but even though you know that they have killed before, it doesn’t really keep you from seeing the loving father and mother who try to educate their children and deeply care for them. At some point, I even wished for them to get away with murder. Well, they are great in deceiving their environment and so is the reader. An impressive psychological thriller which only reveals its full extent at the end of the novel and definitely makes you think about what you really know of the people around you and how easily you can be tricked and misled.
This was such a crime love story that was edge of your seat fun to read. The conflict, drama, situations, and ending were so powerful and energetic that you could not help but keep on reading. I love all of the cover names and point of views both the husband and wife had while telling the story. This sounds like a book that could totally be a potential Oscar Winning Movie in the near future. An excellent edge-of-your seat fun that is worth all of your time. We will definitely consider adding this title to our Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
This book has some very twisted characters! At the core we have Millicent and her husband -- married for 15 years and they have two teenage children. Millicent sells real estate while her husband is the tennis pro at the club. They appear to be a very normal family, but there are some deep dark secrets lurking! It is so hard to review this book without giving anything away – I don’t want to spoil anything for readers. This one is such a great thriller with excellent pacing, and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen. There are so many twists and unexpected developments that it made my head spin. This debut novel from Samantha Downing is stunning and I recommend it to all who love a good thriller! The writing was excellent and I am impressed this is her debut effort.
Wow... This book was wild. I'm not sure why I took so long to complete this book because when I actually picked it up, I flew through it. I don't want to say too much, but this is a story about a couple who has a picture-perfect marriage, family, and life. For 15 years they live in domestic bliss, until one day they discover a shared interest in a new hobby. This book was fun and juicy, and a little outrageous at times. If you liked A Simple Favor I think you'll be a fan of this novel.
4.5 stars Given the premise and the twisted characters it feels weird to say this was a fun book, but it really was super entertaining! I would catch myself smiling at certain parts and at one point I even had an out loud "Ha!" type moment. I don't know what this says about me but hopefully it just means I'm a totally normal person who just happens to like books that feature completely messed up individuals. So if you liked the show Dexter, I would recommend checking this book out. It's about a husband and wife who are busy raising two kids and trying to keep up with the Joneses. Oh, and one other thing, they are also murderers. This book was a good mix of surprises that caught you off guard and some things that you were just waiting to happen. The fun is watching it all unfold. This is the type of book in which just about every character is unlikable but yet you still are interested in their lives and how everything is going to get wrapped up in the end. Highly recommend this one as it's a little bit offbeat and different but has all the elements in a book that make you keep turning the pages. Thank you to Berkley for sending me an advance copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
A Lovely Wife is definitely a misnomer. A demented psycho is more like it. Everything Millicent does seems innocent on the outside, but it is truly evil. She plans things that will benefit her and only her with her family being at the brunt of the control issues she has. Millicent is definitely a character to hate. One day after a number of years of marriage, she had the most bizarre plan. Her husband who was never given a name in the book did what he did to keep Millicent pleased most likely because he was afraid of his wife. MY LOVELY WIFE is unbelievable, but Ms. Downing does an excellent job of keeping you engaged from the first page, and the engagement doesn’t stop just like Millicent doesn't stop the murders of young women. Ms. Downing's debut is unique and well-written, but also has a story line that is unthinkable and unimaginable. If you enjoy a fast-paced book that takes you on a crazy ride and will have you biting your nails, then MY LOVELY WIFE will be a book you will want to take a look at. You HAVE to read this book to believe what the characters are doing. You won't be able to turn the pages quickly enough. 5/5 This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Millicent and her husband have been married for a number of years. (I never learned his real name.) She works as a realtor and he works as a tennis instructor. They have two teenage children. On the outside, they are like a normal, loving couple who enjoy their children, with lots of family time and strict rules. But on the inside, the couple lives a very different life than anyone would expect. They murder people. It began years ago as a necessity to get rid of a body but then it became a fun thing that they do now and then - for a lark. Lots of thought goes into it and it’s their big thrill. I can’t tell anything more or I would ruin the plot for readers. Suffice to say, there is a lot of unbelievable stuff going on that certainly made me glad I didn’t have this couple for neighbors. It’s calculated, precise, and cold. Oh, but there’s a bit of humor here too. Perhaps that’s why I was a huge fan of Dexter. Pulling a fast one on the police makes one smile. This is a really good book, folks. Don’t miss it! Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.