The Innocent Wife

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Mar. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781335952400. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488080500. SUSPENSE
A compelling premise gives way to a lack of momentum in Lloyd's debut novel. British teacher Samantha, raw from a bad breakup, finds herself increasingly obsessed with an American murder case that found international attention after being featured in a true crime documentary. Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and convicted of the murder of Holly Michaels in Florida. Citing a lack of evidence and a police force apparently uninterested in looking at other suspects, a small but dedicated online group is now trying to overturn the conviction. As she learns more, Samantha begins writing to Dennis. Letters turn into a visit, and soon Samantha abandons her job and her home to marry Dennis and campaign for his release. It doesn't take long for her to start wondering whether he truly is innocent of Holly's murder and whether he may be connected to other missing girls in the area. Having created such a great setup, Lloyd doesn't seem to know quite what to do with what she's built. For long stretches, her characters don't do much at all, and when they finally do, it's almost too much, too fast. Despite these flaws, Lloyd is clearly a writer with promise; she did win the 2016 Daily Mail First Novel competition. Hopefully, her next effort is a more even one.
VERDICT For die-hard fans of psychological suspense. [See Prepub Alert, 8/28/17.]
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