The Widow is an engrossing and well-crafted mystery, though the romance is so subtle that it’s almost lost in all of the action.
Abigail Browning is the titular widow. Her husband Chris was mysteriously murdered while they honeymooned on Mount Desert Island, a community in Maine where he grew up.
Seven years after her husband’s death, Abigail is now a homicide detective returning to the island to dig up the past, a move that is not welcomed by all the island’s inhabitants. Abigail is subsequently warned to forget about everything, which of course only motivates her further. Her persistence in sticking around brings her closer to Owen Garrison, a wealthy neighbor who was also Chris’s friend.
Like Abigail, Owen’s life was also touched by tragedy. His older sister drowned when he was a young boy and, powerless to save her, he was forever changed by that event. Owen also prevented Abigail from going to Chris’s murdered body, and since that time, they have not had the chance to connect. But seven years after Abigail is widowed, it seems that it’s finally time for some change.
The strength of the story is in the side characters, all of whom have complex backgrounds and issues. One is a young man who worshipped Chris as a boy, but who has been involved in serious trouble in both the present and the past. Another is one of Chris’s friends, an alcoholic who has fallen from grace. This is a well-layered mystery with many possible suspects with differing motivations and connections to the victim. The author kept me happily guessing and engrossed in this aspect of the story.
What kept me turning the pages was the mystery of who killed Chris, but not too much else. It’s a shame that the mystery worked so well, but not the romance. The only thing truly missing is a deeper connection to the main characters and a bigger stake in the romance. Once Owen and Abigail start spending time with each other, the romance moves along without much significant development or understanding why they want to be together, other than some intangible feeling.
The author deliberately makes the attraction between the main characters subtle, with little conflict over anything except exactly when they will act on it. Once they cross that bridge, there is a sense of inevitability and very little drama. I liked both of the characters and thought that the author did a very nice job in drawing certain parallels in how they had both been affected by separate tragic deaths of a loved one. But too often the characters felt distant, and I needed to see more in the romance for me to truly care about them as a couple. And even though so much of the story revolves around Chris and the man he was, I felt that I didn’t get to know enough about him either.
Surprisingly, I ended the book feeling I knew more about some of the side characters than the main ones. While the book’s resolution should have brought some kind of emotional catharsis for Abigail and Owen, I didn’t feel as affected as I expected nor did I feel that they had really changed. I enjoyed the mystery, but I did think it was a shame that I didn’t feel more for Abigail and Owen.