Publication Date: 28th December from Century
Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm – the filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.
Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry Danson and campaign, as his wife, for his release.
But when the campaign is successful, and Dennis is freed, events begin to suggest that he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?
The Innocent Wife was a brilliantly immersive read – if you watched Making A Murderer you’ll probably like this – taking that type of premise as a starting point then taking the reader on a kind of “behind the scenes” journey – focusing on Sam, obsessed with the subject to the point that she drops everything, moves to the States and ultimately marries him. Then, however, the campaign is successful and she’s faced with living with a man she barely knows and who may not be as innocent as he seems.
Through her we meet the television crew, the people from the hometown of the dead girl, various other involved parties and start to slowly uncover the genuine truth of the matter. What I loved about it was the way the author obfuscates her characters, making it hard to see realities but done in a very realistic manner. Dennis is a mass of contradictions, one moment you are full of sympathy for his plight, others you think “ooh this guy is dangerous” but until you reach the final pages you are never quite sure.
Sam as a character I did find a little insipid – she’s easily lead and suffers from extreme jealousy, she is often blinded to the truths around her simply by the sheer force of her obsessive nature – but this makes her very real, it didn’t feel strange that she left her life and married a possible murderer.
Overall a really great, gripping, page turner of a read. You just want to know – I also thought the ending was cleverly thought provoking.