Liv Constantine’s deft facility with sleight-of-hand plotting and diversionary tactics are on full display in her latest thriller The Wife Stalker. Piper Reynard, one of two central figures in the novel, is fleeing a murky past that she seeks to leave behind on the other side of the country. She is the recent owner of a new wellness center in a wealthy CT suburb, leveraging her prior therapist training to cater to a gullible clientele. The story begins as Piper is training her laser focus on a handsome defense attorney who is representing one of her clients. Leo Drakos is a successful but troubled family man who quickly becomes captivated by the beautiful and driven woman. There is only one thing standing in the way of the two lovers: Joanna. Joanna is almost farcically indulgent, overprotective and doting, always seeking to selflessly serve the needs of Leo and the two young children, Evie and Stelli. Despite her ceaseless devotion, Leo jumps at the opportunity to banish Joanna when her needy mother is injured, paving the way for a new life with Piper. Now that Joanna is out of the house, Piper slides into place—clumsily attempting to win over the children who miss their mother and are not as easily charmed as their father. Convinced that Piper is a dangerous black-widow predator, Joanna vows to recapture her rightful position and convince Leo that he has been dangerously duped. Joanna starts digging into Piper’s past, hoping to discover enough disturbing evidence to justify some increasingly desperate attempts to win Leo back. Constantine alternates between the perspectives of the two main female characters, Piper’s in third person and Joanna’s in first-person narration. The two women are cleverly complements and the book’s gripping plot provides creeping revelations into the warped complexity of both. Somewhere along the way, the author also manages to lead the reader astray, and the result is a climax that is breathtakingly unexpected. The Wife Stalker will likely thrill Constantine’s many fans, earning her some well-deserved new ones. In a genre replete with an embarrassment of riches, Liv Constantine manages to provide even the most seasoned thrill seekers an uncommon reward—a genuinely surprising ending.
Thanks to the author, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.