Book reviews

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

The Innocent Wife

Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted. A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release. But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all …

Click here to buy The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

The Innocent Wife is an interesting debut from Amy Lloyd. Clearly inspired by the documentary series Making a Murderer, the book imagines what would happen if a man on death row was in fact shown to be innocent of murder and released after many years in prison. Here, timid UK school teacher Sam, has become obsessed with Dennis Danson’s case and – over the first third of the book – writes to him, gets to know him, travels to the US to meet him and the TV crew who have documented his life and arrest and ultimately marries him, before new evidence comes to light and he is released. Now they must get to know each other ‘in real life’ but it isn’t long before Sam starts to have doubts about her new husband…

The first part of the story is engaging as it shows how Sam ends up halfway around the world, married to a death row prisoner, as well as explaining the background to Dennis’s life and supposed crime. However, I found the middle part of the story really slow, although it did manage to make you feel claustrophobic and as though something was ‘not quite right’. As characters, I found Sam to be pretty unsympathetic and Dennis to be completely inaccessible. The story seems to jump around a bit, spending lots of time on things that didn’t appear to be relevant before practically skipping over some more intriguing points or starting to develop what seems to be an interesting plot point, before just letting it fade away.

The pace does pick up again around the final quarter, and I did not guess the ending, but the conclusion felt chaotic and overall the story left me a little cold.

As always, I am grateful to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the ARC of The Innocent Wife.

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