book review · NetGalley · psychological suspense

Book Review – Unfaithful

by Natalie Barelli

“Thank you,” I say sweetly when she tells me I’m lucky to have such a beautiful family. But I want to tell her it’s not just luck. A family is like a fortress you have to defend all the time. You can’t relax because there’s always someone looking for a breach, always someone trying to get in. Someone just like her…

When I arrive unannounced at my husband’s studio in need of a shoulder to cry on after hearing that my best student, Alex, has died, I see a pair of wineglasses drying by the sink and my deepest fear is confirmed: my husband is having an affair.

Most women would fall to their knees in tears and throw him out of the house—but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Instead, I go home and cook a healthy dinner for our children, walk the dog and unload the dishwasher without complaint. I will make him see that I’m still the woman he married; attractive, successful, the glue that holds our perfect family together. I need this marriage to work to protect a terrible secret of my own, something that would destroy everything I’ve already sacrificed so much for.

But when the police arrive at my door asking questions about Alex’s death that I can’t answer, and threatening text messages start appearing on my phone, I know that someone close has been watching me very carefully.

The truth is, there are three people in my marriage, but only one of them is deadly…

My Review

I’d seen such a lot being said about this book, and all of it good. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to read it. And, everything they were saying about it was true!

It was a slow start, but far from dull as the reader is introduced to Anna and her family, and then her colleagues. She’s a maths professor, a numbers geek, working at the university mentoring students – it’s all pretty normal. Her husband, Luis, is an artist in the throes of an exhibition that could be awesome for his career. With two wonderful kids and a dog, life really is perfect.

It all starts to go wrong when Anna is passed over for a tenured position. Then one of her students, with whom she has solved a high-profile maths theory declares he’s going to publish alone, leaving her name off the paper. When he falls to his death, she wonders if she was responsible in some way. Will the police come for her? They do, but only to question her, but Anna is extremely paranoid and has moments of introspection that last forever.

She’s faced with the dilemma of whether to publish now as the sole author. But on top of that, she senses her husband is having an affair. Then her boss, Geoff, is a slimeball who can’t take no for an answer. Anna feels like her life is out of control, and she’s not about to sit back and be walked all over again. Trouble is, it seems anything Anna touches simply creates more problems for her, and by getting drunk she does actually lose control … and then cannot recall what she might have or might not have done (which is kind of important when there are more fatal accidents and she has no alibi)

Told in first person, with Anna as the most unreliable narrator, you might feel the plot is more than a little unrealistic at times. But, oh is it fun. Is Anna going mad with everything that’s going on? You have to wonder, and in doing so, you’ll be hooked till the very end which will blow you away with an almighty bonkers turn of events. The clues are there, but will you see them? I didn’t.

If you enjoy a fun, crazy ride with a hefty dose of paranoia and oodles of suspense, then check it out.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher – Bookouture -and have reviewed this voluntarily.

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