The Pocket Wife
Dana Catrell isn’t sure what happened at Celia Steinhauser’s house that afternoon. The only thing she knows is that her neighbor is dead. As she tries to piece together the events, Dana vaguely remembers an argument after a lot of drinks at Celia’s house. That and a picture on Celia’s phone of Dana’s husband, Peter and another woman. Alcohol isn’t the only reason Dana can’t remember, however. She’s on a manic bipolar disorder climb and headed for a crash.
Detective Jack Moss gives the Steinhauser case his full attention, as always. Now it’s a nice distraction from his ruined life at home. Under pressure from the prosecutor’s office, Jack has to solve the case quickly and everything else will have to wait. Moss interviews neighbors as well as Dana, Peter, Celia’s husband, Ronald. Is Dana’s account reliable? Is Peter having an affair? Does Ronald’s alibi check out? In addition to these questions, when forensic evidence points in a new direction, Moss may have to consider an alarming alternative.
Set in Paterson, New Jersey, outside of New York, this debut thriller/mystery looks inside the mind of a woman who struggles to separate the truth from a confusion of thoughts and images. Her manic self becomes obsessed with finding Celia’s phone and the picture of Peter and another woman. If Dana can find that picture, she’ll still have a grip on her life.
I enjoyed this suspenseful story, told in third person, but from both Dana and Jack’s points of view. The author uses Dana’s unreliable memories to drive the story and I was fascinated by Dana’s ability to grasp at pieces of truth, despite her mental illness. That made me want her to prove herself innocent, despite incriminating facts. Readers will feel the stress of Dana’s confusion and watch her approach the brink.
If you’re from New Jersey, you may wonder why the book is set in Paterson, a dangerously violent city, not really a nice suburban town. I’m not sure why. The story does include a violent murder, but the author’s description of the town and the neighborhood where the Catrells and the Steinhausers live don’t seem to fit the actual town. The author also uses a lot of rain to add mood to the story. I thought it was a little overdone, as if the sun never comes out in New Jersey! These are small comments, however, because I felt the story and the suspense of Dana’s eventual collapse were very engaging. I think the story’s strongest parts were the looks inside Dana’s mind.
I recommend The Pocket Wife to readers who like suspense and mystery and are looking for a quick read.
Thanks for visiting – come back soon!
22 thoughts on “Book Review: The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford”
Sounds intriguing, Barbara.
It was an interesting premise. Thanks for stopping by, Norah!
Thanks for sharing your review, Barbara.
Hi Jill – you are welcome and thanks for the visit 🙂
I like the title. Sounds interesting.
Hi and thanks for visiting – yes, it was a fast read, interesting and entertaining. 🙂
Aw I enjoyed reading your post! I’m glad you managed to read it x
Hi Books and Bakes – yes, the whole spiraling element to it and her bipolar episode made the story exciting. Thanks so much for recommending it!
You’re welcome x
This sounds like another intriguing thriller, Barbara. Thanks for sharing. And I emailed you yesterday. 🙂
Thanks Lauren. It was a good premise – I can’t resist a thriller with an unreliable character. Thanks for reading and commenting and I believe we’re all caught up with our emails 😉
Been a while since I read a mystery. Probably due for one.
Hi Jeff – I like to mix it up, but I’m ready for something more substantial now. Thanks for stopping by – hope you’re doing well. 🙂
Doing alright, thanks. Hope you are too.
Hanging in there – a rough summer but doing okay.
Good to hear 😀
Sounds worth the read, even if the author did need a bit more editing.
Hi Ann – yes, the setting was a little funny, but I’m not sure many people would care or notice. Since I grew up in NJ and know the towns pretty well, I thought the author could have chosen a better town to put the story in. That and all that rain! You know, we New Jerseyans are sensitive about our state’s reputation. 😉 But I like stories in which one of the characters unravels. You never know what will happen. Thanks for the visit!
Thanks, Barb. I absolutely love your reviews. I am not a mystery/suspense/thriller reader. But I love the snippets that you give us. Thanks for doing this!
Oh Donna – thank you so much – I really appreciate your comment. I have two more reviews coming up: There There by Tommy Orange and Elizabeth and Monty – a bio about Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. I love your blog too – I live vicariously through your posts!
I like the sound of Dana’s character. Her mental health issues make for an interesting narration.
Hi Robbie – yes, her bipolar disorder made the storyline unpredictable, just perfect for a mystery/thriller. Thank you for the visit!
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