Joe O’Loughlin’s children have known loss, most recently that of their mother Julianne. Living with this legacy of grief, Joe and his daughters are taking each day as it comes which also involves facing the harsh reality of Joe’s advancing Parkinsons Disease. Joe’s work as a clinical psychologist has exposed him to all the horrors and trickery of man (this is novel #9 in the series) and the knowledge that he won’t be around for his two girls forever is never far from his mind.
There has always been the comfort of extended family; Joe’s sisters are loving aunts for the girls plus Joe’s mother is a proud grandmother. Joe however has never been certain where it is that he lays in his father’s affections. A brilliant but remote academic, William has always maintained rigid barriers between family and professional demands. Joe’s mother remains the staunch defendant of family values, demanding respect for her husband even when his harsh personality inevitably alienates everyone from family to colleagues. It is perhaps more for his mother than for William himself that Joe races to the hospital when news reaches him that his father has been attacked. The woman sitting by William’s bedside is not known to Joe however, and she has quite the tale to tell.
THE OTHER WIFE is the latest bittersweet entry in an excellent series that progressively takes a little bit more of your heart with each encounter. And these are crime novels, so that is truly a testament to the author’s mastery of characterization. Creating characters that we are fully invested in will always trump the impact of a complex and clever plot. THE OTHER WIFE is a shining example of both achievements.
THE OTHER WIFE serves well as a standalone but if you’ve been on the bandwagon with the rest of us crime readers, you have likely read at least one of the priors in the Joe O’Loughlin series. Oh yes, reading this series is totally a personal concern now – we have a genuine need to see how Joe is faring with each series entry. This latest work does not have the frenetic pace of some of the others but your heart will still pound in concern for Joe, and you will definitely want to cheer him on as Joe battles to keep it all together in such difficult circumstances. Joe is a little edgier in this outing, and you do get a sense of that ticking time clock with his health.
In a time where novelists from all genres seem to be turning inwards and examining the complex nature of family relationships (as opposed to globally looking outwards, with that not being the most positive thing perhaps to be doing with your time right now), THE OTHER WIFE reinforces that the biggest mysteries are always present, whether ignored or simply as yet undiscovered, in every family.