The Starter Wife

The Starter Wife

by Nina Laurin


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From the bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes "a spine-tingler" (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll.

Local police have announced that they're closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband's first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There's a big difference.

My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it's an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.

When the voice does finally come, it's female, low, muffled somehow. "Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is."

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She's not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It's Colleen.

"Laurin knows how to ratchet up the suspense." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538715710
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 57,552
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Nina Laurin studied Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal, where she currently lives. She arrived there when she was just twelve years old, and she speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English but writes her novels in English. She wrote her first novel while getting her writing degree, and Girl Last Seen was a bestseller a year later in 2017. The follow-up, What My Sister Knew, came out in summer 2018 to critical acclaim. Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she's always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea. She blogs about books and writing on her own site,

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The Starter Wife 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
mytwocents less than 1 minute ago
Well that was fun! Other than what's already in the blurb, there's very little I can say about the plot--there's a huge, game-changing twist in this one, so I don't want to spoil anything. I stayed up far too late to finish reading because I was determined to see how this unfolded. Laurin knows how to keep us turning pages! There was one not-so-teeny thing I had to overlook in order to keep enjoying this story--Google. Byron, the former husband of the "starter wife," becomes involved with a series of women after his wife's disappearance in 2010. Apparently, we're to believe that *not a single one* of these women Googled him before they dated him. Move things back ten years, and yeah, that might be plausible. But in the 2010s? Hahaha, sorry, probably not. As soon as I pretended the plot was unfolding in a different time period, this was a lot of fun! This author was new to me, so I'll be sure to look for more of her work in the future. I'll dock a half a star for the Google funny business and give this 4.5 stars. Thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a DRC of this novel.
Loy3 6 days ago
This book started out slow and took a while to get into it. There were a lot of twists and turns. I did not care for any of the characters which made the book just okay. The ending was not what I expected following the storyline. It could be the story was not for me. It was not the writing which was fresh that I did not really care for. I think is was story itself. Someone who loves this type of book will enjoy it. Thank you Net Galley for allowing me to read this book
AnitaG 6 days ago
Claire appears to be the doting second wife of Byron Westcott, a professor of English twenty years older than her. She is enamored of his work, his passion for her and everything about him. His first wife disappeared, it assumed she took her life and drowned. She had been a renowned artist, and her money is what keeps Byron and Claire in a lifestyle they couldn’t afford. That money is what makes it possible for twenty seven year old Claire to not work, and to keep working on a novel she dreams of finishing. This is what the first few chapters tell us, but oh an unreliable narrator is at work, and we also see a dark figure, is someone following Claire? Is someone stalking her, mocking her and after her darling Byron? Is Claire imagining that Byron less affectionate and leaving her alone more and more? Is there another person plotting against Claire? The Starter Wife will keep you guessing at each chapter and wondering who is the evil person in this tale. Nina Laurin had me second guessing every single person. As Claire reaches out to colleagues and past loves of Byron, I wondered, what would she find, what was really going on with he and Colleen, was he the doting husband everyone said, or was there something darker at play? I had read Laurin’s fist book Girl Last Seen, and I have to say this book is even better. The characters are more developed. I love a story I can’t quite figure out, it keeps me turning pages and waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Grab this one up, I read it very quickly and won’t soon forget Claire.
Alfoster 8 days ago
This is my favorite genre as I love a good flawed character/unreliable narrator, secrets, lies and duplicitous acts (not sure what that says about me but oh well--it's fiction)! Claire is obsessed with her professor husband, Byron and his first wife, Colleen whose drowning was ruled a suicide but still remains suspicious. As she attempts to unravel the past, she suspects there are nefarious actions directed against her as friends and family members seem to conspire against her. To whom can she confide her thoughts? Is she crazy or is her husband really the philandering man she believes? Twisty and fun, this is a roller-coaster ride of the most bizarre kind! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
SheTreadsSoftly 9 days ago
The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin is a highly recommended psychological thriller. Claire is the younger second wife of Byron Westcott, a professor of literature at Ohio’s Mansfield College. They have been married for two years and Claire is happy, but it seems like Byron is becoming more distant. Byron's first wife, painter Colleen May, also a Mansfield professor, committed suicide five years before, but her body was never found. Now Claire is beginning to wonder what really happened to Colleen, especially when she receives a phone call from a woman she is sure is Colleen. Claire is the narrator of this riveting, dark, tension-filled psychological thriller, but there is a second narrative voice that belongs to an unnamed woman who may be stalking Claire and out to destroy her. The unnamed stalker is obsessed with Byron and wants Claire out of the way. Could it be Colleen? Claire begins to investigate her death and Byron's past, while at the same time suffering from unexplained illnesses. Did Byron kill Colleen and is he now out to eliminate Claire? While you won't necessarily like Claire, the suspense escalates with the second narrator who seems to be out to get Claire. Byron may also be a part of the scheme. It is a trend now to have unlikable female narrators and, while this follows along that well-traveled path, the ending was a totally surprising twist. The Starter Wife is a novel that you have to wait until the final third of the book for some shocking and surprising incidents. It is not until the end that I found myself admiring the skillful writing, the intricate plot, and the excellent character development. I thought I knew what was going on and where the story was headed, which is exactly the way I imagine Laurin planned out her novel. Well played Nina Laurin; I was totally surprised and caught unaware. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.
Texas109 9 days ago
The Starter Wife is a good read for someone who enjoys psychological thrillers. Told from two points of view this reader had a difficult time determining fact from fiction until the end, just as the author intended. The writing is good and the plot moves along nicely...even as the characters’ personalities begin to change or perhaps, deteriorate. I found this basically to be a story about deception, but who was the deceiver? I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book.
Anonymous 10 days ago
Claire Westcott and her husband, Byron, live in Ohio. Byron is a professor of literature at Mansfield Liberal Arts College. There is nearly 20 years difference in their ages. Claire wants to be an author, but as yet she has had no interest in her book from any literary agents. Claire is Byron’s second wife. His first wife, Colleen, a talented artist, died it is believed by suicide, but her body has never been found. Byron and Claire have been living quite well on the money left by Colleen. But her paintings cover all the walls and it’s almost like a shrine to her. At the time Colleen went missing, Byron was suspected of having killed her but nothing ever came of that. Claire wants very much to have a baby but has had no luck in getting pregnant. The doctor has told her that her only chance of having a child is with a donor egg, but Claire refuses to go that route, convincing herself that she will get pregnant anyway. Claire is so much in love with Byron but she can’t help but wonder if he is having an affair. Using a fake name, she gets on social media and tries to find out things from some of his students. Soon, she starts getting emails from people she doesn’t know. In addition, she has blackouts from drinking that anger Byron. Claire begins to wonder if maybe Colleen isn’t dead and is trying to terrorize her. This book was a slow start, in addition to being depressing and a bit boring. However, I had already read that a slow start is what other readers had found so I decided to stay the course and finish it. I’m certainly glad I did. Wow! Just when you think you may have a person figured out - bam - they totally fool you! If you can hang in there for the slow start, I’m thinking you will enjoy this book as well. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Anonymous 10 days ago
Well, that was a sick, twisted,and terrific rollercoaster of a book. Obsession and delusion make this a dark, dark gripping story that stays in your stomach when you turn the last page.
Steve Aberle 12 days ago
The Starter Wife is like eating an entire bag of candy. Addicting, enjoyable, and guilt-inducing. In the age of indistinguishable domestic thrillers, this stands out. The story has all the ingredients necessary to produce a rollicking good time. Lies, obsession, homicide, and that is just a sample. The plot is replete with unpredictability and the characters multilayered. I was bummed out when I finished this fascinating and entertaining domestic thriller. Here is hoping for more by this talented writer.
TexasRebel17 12 days ago
Holy Moly! This was a book that had myself glued to it even when I so needed to go to bed but I had to stay up for that finale that put this book on my re-read stack! Young Claire to married to the older college professor Byron who's first wife Colleen, supposedly suicided herself. It's when the 2nd person shows in the book that you start thinking that Colleen might not be dead after all. I so don't want to spoil anything after that but let's just say that after a trip to a cabin is when the book really starts heating up to the point of total shock of the truth! All I can say about this book is that I have found myself a new thriller Author that I know can bring the thrill while leaving you wanting more! Any book that will make me stay up even while I'm fighting my eyes for sleep, is a book that totally deserves all the recognition that it deserves! Thank You to Nina Laurin for this one book that turned me into a fan of yours!! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher! All thoughts and opinions are my own!
RobinLovesReading 13 days ago
My Rating 3.5 Stars For a moment, while reading The Starter Wife, I was reminded of Rebecca by Daphne DeMaurier. That feeling did not last too long in the book. Was Claire Westcott, married two years to a man nearly twice her age, Byron, living in the shadow of his first wife, Colleen? Colleen, a successful painter, apparently committed suicide almost twenty years ago. Currently, the closing of the case of the suicide begins raising questions to Claire. While the police have finally vindicated Byron, rumors have not. Claire begins believing the rumors. Did Byron kill Colleen after all? Is Claire safe? This entire story is relayed in two narrations, both in first-person. Quite naturally, we have Claire, with her everyday life and actions. Then we have someone unnamed, a person obsessed and who is stalking Byron. She is determined to save Byron. In dialog, she is quite clear that Byron's wife is not worthy of him. She will do anything she can to stop any harm from coming to Byron. Yes, she will go to any means necessary. My connection to the classic that I alluded to at the beginning of this review? Claire is beset with jealousy and unease with any feelings Byron might have had towards Colleen, who was the starter wife. Claire is living in Colleen's house and enjoys the benefits from the the wealth that Colleen amassed due to her paintings, as well as her years as a college professor. Byron is also a professor, and seems oblivious to any feelings of uncertainty that Claire has. With two unreliable narrators, and with a man like Byron, it was rather hard to feel drawn into the characters and their stories. However, I do think the story was done quite well, especially when a massive twist occurred in the story. I was absolutely riveted from that point on and my jaw simply dropped at the shocking conclusion. I am glad to have read this book by Nina Laurin, even with the absolute crazy characters, and I definitely look forward to reading her books again in the future. Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Shelley-S-Reviewer 13 days ago
I was totally enthralled by the book from the very beginning. The writing made the characters come to life easily and with power. The twist at the end was something I didn’t expect. I liked how the book went through different of my favourite types of thrillers. The story was very engrossing. This book is packed with so many layers, each one carefully developed and shown to the reader in perfect timing. It is so much more than just the story of a husband and wife, each character matters and is intertwined brilliantly. For me, this turned out to be a quick read because I tore through it eager to know. It was written with such clever simplicity, which I really appreciated. No need for crowded characters or dramatic laborious environments. I liked the style, the pace and the way the author would feed you tidbits at a time; crumbling you along for more. This is the third book, of hopefully many more, I have read from Nina Laurin. She always manages to hold my interest from the first page till the end.
Plum_Report 13 days ago
First I would like to thank Nina for sending me an ARC copy of The Starter Wife in exchange for an honest review. A psychological thriller for sure! Claire, Byron's second wife, is dealing with some internal conflict regarding Byron and his attachment to his deceased wife. Claire begins to questions Byron's faith in their marriage and fears their marriage may be in trouble. Claire goes to certain lengths to try and make Byron happy all while looking deeper into Byron's late wife's death. I'm not sure if the WOW moment towards the end was slightly predictable or not, but it was definitely a WOW moment for me. The story was a well written story that creatively included modern day communications via emails and texts within the narration. Read my full review of The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin at the PlumReport book blog:)
KWeldon 14 days ago
Byron and his wife Claire have been married for 2 years. Byron is 47 and Claire is 27. Byron's first wife, Colleen, disappeared. The police believe it was a suicide after her car is found near a lake and a suicide note is found. Strangely women around Byron seem to disappear. There has been a lot of gossip at the college where Byron is a professor. When Byron starts acting differently toward Claire she becomes concerned and starts investigating his past. Thank you Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book. General Fiction (Adult) Expected Release Date: July 9, 2019
mamalovestoread22 14 days ago
With it's puzzling and absorbing story line, The Starter Wife is certain to have readers captivated from beginning to end! The moment I cracked the cover on this one I felt like I was being taken for a ride, nothing was as it seemed, and every time I thought I had a grasp on what was happening, the words would creep up on me and leave me baffled all over again. This domestic thriller is downright unsettling, I found it hard to trust the characters, and anything they had to say... they all had me doubting myself at every turn! Once again Ms. Laurin has not only left me impressed with her words, but also taken me on a thrilling literary ride that I won't forget anytime soon! I highly recommend you add this one to you summer reading list, it's a mind-twisting little page-turner guaranteed to have you on edge the whole way through! I requested an advanced copy of this title from the publisher, and I am voluntarily leaving my honest opinion.
Anonymous 14 days ago
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, it was a good read, if slightly disturbing. Claire is married to Byron, but the ghost of his wife, Colleen is a spectre that won't go away and is putting strain not only on their marriage but on Claire's ability to make good choices. None of the characters in this book were particularly likeable, it wasn't the type of book where you were rooting for someone, it was more about finding out what really happened to Colleen and how far Claire will go.... Thanks for to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book, this is my honest opinion.
MoniqueD 14 days ago
THE STARTER WIFE is the most difficult book I've ever tried to rate, so I settled for three stars. I think it's one of those books one has to judge for oneself. I don't wish to say much about the plot or it would be all spoilers. I had to scrap almost every note I had written for my review because of the humongous plot twist. One detail had not escaped my notice, I should have put two and two together, and I didn't, so I guess I'm partly to blame, but the exceedingly disagreeable characters distracted me. Most of them were so unlikable, except for Chrissy, Derek, and Sarah Sterns, I read "angry" until almost the very end. It was a satisfying and logical conclusion, I might add. THE STARTER WIFE is, I suppose, the ultimate in unreliable narrators, but I don't believe I had ever read a book where I hated every main character. I guess in the end it was well done, but I didn't enjoy it. If the author hadn't made me hate everyone, it would have been different. I think the fact that it was all written in first person POV contributed to why I disliked the characters and failed to connect with them. I felt I had been manipulated by the author, and not in a good way. I really didn't care about what happened to the characters, but I kept reading because I wanted to know how it ended. Still, it's a miserable feeling when you have no one to like, no one you care for, no one to cheer on throughout an entire book. I've read books about sociopaths and psychopaths where I didn't wish for their swift demise as I did here. The writing itself is excellent, and although there are some inconsistencies and contradictions, there aren't any typos, which is highly commendable. However, I think there was an error in a significant date, the only one written in numbers. I found THE STARTER WIFE an extremely frustrating, confusing, and "feel-bad" book. It was so unpleasant (here's that word again), but I guess it was clever and I wasn't in this case! I will probably read other books by Nina Laurin, because she is very talented.
Janice Lombardo 14 days ago
I had read the tantalizing excerpt and was thrilled to find the entire book to review. Claire is Byron's second wife - Colleen his first (an applauded artist). It is difficult to know if Byron fell out of love with his first wife who (according to the authorities) died of a suicidal drowning. Things with Claire and Byron seem not to be as perfect as they were when Claire and Byron had first married. Clare is trying hard to have a baby to fix this. (Where did she ever get that idea?) Although she thinks Byron may be cheating on her with his college students (he is close to 50 - Claire is 27), she needs this baby. Claire has also written a novel that no one wants to publish. So, all day Claire goes online to dig up information, and who knows WHAT else, and drink wine. On a weekend holiday, Claire nearly drowns, herself. Byron insists she is drinking too much. A dark force of sorts is writing about Claire within the story. She (the dark force) is out to get Byron for herself - at any cost. We need to find out who this is and why Claire is so erratic - throwing things, breaking into places and meddling with Byron's friends. A great read! Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a nice, twisty story!
MKF 14 days ago
What really happened to Colleen? Did she die? Or is did she just...disappear? And why? That's the question Claire must face. She's married to Byron and, as the second wife, Colleen hangs over her head in ways that she can't even fully articulate. Now she's getting phone calls......What about Byron? What would you do? Ah- no spoilers. This is a nicely twisty domestic thriller with a couple of things that surprised me, a veteran reader of the genre. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Well plotted and nicely written- perfect for the beach or travel.
MKF 14 days ago
What really happened to Colleen? Did she die? Or is did she just...disappear? And why? That's the question Claire must face. She's married to Byron and, as the second wife, Colleen hangs over her head in ways that she can't even fully articulate. Now she's getting phone calls......What about Byron? What would you do? Ah- no spoilers. This is a nicely twisty domestic thriller with a couple of things that surprised me, a veteran reader of the genre. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Well plotted and nicely written- perfect for the beach or travel.
AMGiacomasso 15 days ago
An exciting and entertaining book I couldn't put down. I loved everything: the style of writing, the character, and the plot. I look forward to reading other books by this author. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine