Star Rating: ****
First Published by Headline Publishing Group in 2013
Quiet, reserved, submissive to the life she has adopted as her own – are these all characteristics that lead to murder?
This novel is written from the perspective of two people: the unofficial wife, Jodi, a Psychologist who is particular about her clients and Todd, the womanising, unsuspecting Businessman.
Meeting by chance this couple have created a life together that seems to work well until…
Maybe Todd should have realised, the day they met, that below the cool exterior Jodi was someone to be weary of.
Some twenty years ago Jodi, a student, causes and accident at a set of traffic lights that alters her life forever. The person that she has run into is Todd, a start-out builder with a dream of making it big. Amazed at her self-control Todd wants to find out more about Jodi so invites her out to dinner. After several dates and a meeting of the parents it seems that Jodi and Todd are meant for one another and intend to spend the rest of their lives making one another happy. Slightly more unconventional than Todd, Jodi does not believe that marriage is necessarily a sign of commitment and therefore refuses several proposals. Does this mean she is not committed? Quite the opposite; she throws herself into the bliss of ‘married life’ wholeheartedly, making sure that Todd could wish for nothing – fantastic food freshly prepared ready for when he returns home after a busy day at the office, clean laundry, a tidy home and a woman that, even after years of being together, still takes pride in her appearance. Todd is her priority and she makes sure that her work does not get in the way of caring for the love of her life.
Todd has progressed over the years from small time, chancer builder to Business Entrepreneur owning several building projects in the city. He is the provider; the walking money-bag that supplies the means for Jodi to be the caring, loving ‘house wife’. Working his way through several small projects has led to this point in his life and has meant that he now has a considerable fortune behind him.
A loving woman at home and a successful business surely he could wish for nothing more? Wrong! He has one problem – his wandering eye. Over the course of the years, it would appear that one woman just isn’t enough for this man and he has often found himself in a bed belonging to someone else. Each encounter is short lived and he soon returns to the loving embrace of Jodi. It would appear the chase is what appeals to him. More importantly to him is the homely lifestyle that he and Jodi have created together. Naively he has been carrying on behind Jodi’s back for years content in the knowledge that she is non-the-wiser about his extra-curricular activities – or so he thinks. Jodi has known, it would seem, pretty much from the start but is content with her life and as long as he returns to her each time she does not see the need to challenge his choices.
As the years pile on Todd gets a foreboding feeling. They have never had children, they have never married – is this the most he could have wanted from his life? That’s when Natasha appears. Half his age, still studying, he is attracted to her for her youth. Daughter of one of his best friends he knows he is playing with fire but can’t help himself – he is completely infatuated. So to, it would seem, is Natasha. They spend hours meeting in hotel rooms and sneaking around the city meeting for lunch and then they decide to take a trip away together; one weekend – what harm could it do? Todd lies to Jodi telling her he is off on a fishing trip and although she knows he is lying does nothing to stop him believing that the affair will fizzle out sooner or later. There is just one problem – Natasha doesn’t see this as an affair, she wants more.
Shortly after returning from their weekend away, things take a nasty turn for Todd. Natasha announces that she is pregnant. The family that Todd had at one time wanted is now for the taking but what about Jodi?
To being with he tries to stop his two worlds from colliding but as soon as Dean, his friend and father to Natasha, finds out about the imminent arrival of a grandchild he forces Todd’s hand by telling Jodi himself. The years of quiet resolve expressed by Jodi have just about run their course – she wants more and decides to take action.
No longer able to simultaneously live two lives Todd decides on a life with his vibrant, young mistress who is carrying his child: the next generation to his growing empire. Whilst he believes Jodi will be hurt by this he feels that she will understand his choice and starts to make plans for a different life; one with children and a ‘real’ wife. Wedding plans afloat, changes to his wardrobe, membership to a gym, life couldn’t be more of a contrast – but is it a happy one?
As Todd starts to reflect on his decision, Jodi is making one of her own. One that she believes will end her pain and suffering. With the help of her friend she hires someone to kill Todd and then disappears for a few days. She is upset with the way that Todd has started to treat her – using her like one of his mistresses, coming and going as he pleases, the final straw being the eviction notice that is served on their apartment. According to law, as she never married Todd, she in not entitled to anything – this is a big blow for her and one she cannot overlook. Believing that she will be happier with the outcome she pushes it from her mind and tries to rebuild her life.
The audacity she demonstrates with her plan makes you question Jodi’s current mind-set. No-one would get away with such a blatant killing surely?
Written as two parallel stories you will want to keep reading this novel; reliving each episode twice: once from Jodi’s perspective and once from Todd’s. This is a book that whilst you know the plot line from the beginning will keep you guessing about the finer details until the very end.
Unfortunately, Susan Harrison died of cancer shortly before the novel’s publication.