Wife Stalker
by Constantine, Liv

When the husband she has been patiently supporting for years ends their marriage upon falling in love with another woman, Joanna finds herself enmeshed in an ugly custody battle while struggling with a therapist who dismisses her concerns.

A dual narrative pits a New Age beauty with a checkered past against an old-fashioned gal fighting for her kids and her man. Piper Reynard has moved to Westport after the mysterious deaths of her husband and stepdaughter on the West Coast, and actually he was dead husband No. 2. Now she has changed her name, erased her internet footprint, and opened Harmony Healing Arts on the premises of a failed recovery center: "Maybe things were really going to be different here. They had to be. She couldn't keep starting over and finding new places to hide." In short order, Piper fixes her gaze on a handsome married lawyer named Leo Drakos. Leo has "always been a loyal and faithful husband," so his wife, Joanna, is taken by surprise when he responds to Piper's charms and almost immediately kicks her out of the house and cuts her off from their children. Neither her therapist nor her awful mother seems very sympathetic as Joanna's whole life goes up in smoke. As Piper ruthlessly maneuvers her way into the family, having hot sex with Leo on her sailboat and forcing the children to drink green smoothies, Joanna t urns private investigator in order to find out who this creepy platitude-spouter really is. A woman who hates children was a strong element of the author's first book, the very successful The Last Mrs. Parrish (2017); a somewhat watered-down version is in play here. In general, Constantine's (actually two sisters writing in collaboration) third suspense novel relies on many of the same strategies as the first two, and they feel a bit mechanical at this point. The prose, too, is flat and the characters, thin. Readers who love to be tricked by an unreliable narrator may forgive the shortcomings of this fast read. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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