Liane Moriarty, THE HUSBAND’S SECRET
A famous mystery writer recently said in a speech that she considered herself a crime writer rather than a mystery writer because her books were not always puzzles to be solved, but they always had a crime at their center. This is an interestingly broad definition. Because according to this a book such as Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH would be classified as a crime novel. I’m not sure we would normally put it in that category, although some of us might feel that the last hundred or so pages unfortunately went in that direction. I also noticed that a number of the books nominated for Edgars this year were less about someone solving a crime, and more about people somehow involved in crime, an interesting shift in direction.
At any rate, all of this leads me to say that THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, although it would not normally be considered a crime novel, does meet this expanded criterion. It is a well written, sometimes very witty, book which does have a crime at the center of it. The focus is on how circumstance plays an almost guiding role in people’s lives. In this case, different lives, intersecting by happenstance, lead to the revelation and resolution of a crime. Some readers may be bothered by the prominent place of circumstance in the plot, but in a way that it the author’s point. We often fail to consider how different the future would be if a few factors in the past had been otherwise. I would recommend this to mystery readers who want to expand their horizons a bit.