Taken from Publisher’s Website
“In New York Times bestselling author Jeff Abbott’s latest novel of riveting psychological suspense, an uneasy alliance forms as two widows delve into their husbands’ deadly and dangerous secrets—as they try to protect their own.
Henry North is a down-on-his-luck cybersecurity expert from New Orleans. Adam Zhang is the cofounder of one of Austin’s most successful venture capitalist firms. These two men didn’t know each other. They had never met. Yet they died together, violently, in a place neither had any business being.
When Henry doesn’t return from a business trip, his wife, Kirsten, panics—and then gets an anonymous phone call: “Your husband is dead in Austin.”
Flora Zhang knew her husband was keeping secrets. She suspected an affair, but she had decided she could forgive him for his weakness—until her husband ended up dead. And with no explanation for her husband’s murder, the police begin to suspect her.
Together, these two widows will face a powerful foe determined to write a false narrative about the murders. In doing so, neither Flora nor Kirsten will remain the women the world thought they were.
An uneasy alliance forms as the two widows delve into their husbands’ deadly and dangerous secrets—as they try to protect their own. Together they will face a powerful foe determined to write a false narrative about the murders. In doing so, neither Flora nor Kirsten will remain the woman the world thought they were.”
An Ambush of Widows bears some resemblance in a very small way to the very general premise of the film The Widows, an excellent thriller film from a few years ago that subverted the idea of the passive widow, who just fades into obscurity upon the passing of their somehow more significant husband. They retreat as if just an afterthought, and the grief becomes just a projection of the audience to show just how much that male character was adored when they were still alive. That’s why widows in older media have been purposely depicted as succombing to their grief irrevocably and resigning whatever semblance of active roles they had in their lives when their loved ones were still alive. The question posed though, unintentionally for the creators of this older media, is whether these bereft women ever really had a life while their husbands were still living.
Similar to The Widows, An Ambush of Widows is structured around the perspectives of two different wives, from polar opposite social classes, who doubtlessly have clashing perspectives based on their separate life experiences, but somehow are forced through circumstance to find some common ground, no matter how tenuous that common ground is as the mystery behind the cause of their respective husband’s deaths becomes unwound. Both characters, aside from contrasting personalities, also have very different skill sets, something they employ to help solve the mystery. All the while both are also dealing with their own emotional turmoil, re-examining relationships with people in their lives they are now confronting uncomfortable truths about for the first time. Rather than these elements becoming digressions, Jeff Abbott use each strand of something that could easily be incongruous as an opportunity to build on the complex, though cohesive plot.
I’ve never read Jeff Abbott previously, but this was a very well written, engaging read for the most part; Abbott skill seems to shine in taking tropes of the genre, part and parcel of his tool kit as a thriller writer, and successively subverting each and everyone, which he wields also as a way of ramping up the suspense. All of the interfolding elements of the story come together very well, and the book never gets drowned out in any tedious exposition nor hackneyed characters, or formulaic genre elements. My only little nitpick about this book would be that oftentimes the backstory chapters don’t really juxtapose too well with some of the ending scenes of the prior chapters set in the present, making these scenes detract just a bit from full immersion into the book. And the ending seemed a bit rushed, especially in comparison to the otherwise good pacing for the actual build-up to the revelation behind the novel’s mystery.
Aside from these few criticisms, this is definitely a very good thriller read, and the cover, in particular, has a great color scheme with enough light/dark contrast embodying the novel’s greatest appeal, working as such a strong asset to the book, which is the developing synnergy of the two very interesting, well-sketched widows who really set this book apart from some of the other thrillers I’ve read this summer. It might be a bit premature for this, but I think this might be my favorite thriller read of the year thus far. Given the sheer number of thrillers I tend to read as of recently, especially as someone who is sometimes mentally depleted from work, this is definitely a very strong statement to make, at least for me. Of course, this novel’s rank as my favorite of the year thus far is subject to change as I still have about six months left in the year. Nevertheless, if you loved the film The Widows as much as I did (if you haven’t seen it, be sure to check it out!), or looking for a thriller novel that juggles numerous plots and character intrigue masterfully and has very interesting, endearing characters; I highly recommend you check out this latest offering from Jeff Abbott, an author to add to my list for my next trip to my local library.