Like Gone Girl (a novel I liked so much that I interviewed the author, Gillian Flynn, on Gweek), The Silent Wife is told in alternating chapters from the points-of-view of a common-law husband and wife whose union has endured two decades of infidelity and stifled communication.
Jodi is a 42-year-old part-time psychologist who has developed a coping mechanism for her husband Todd's philandering: she gaslights him with little annoyances. For instance, she removes a key from his keyring so he can't enter his office building. But other than the quiet tricks she plays on Todd, she seems to enjoy his company and delights in making gourmet meals that they both enjoy in their high-end Chicago riverfront condominium.
Todd is a fairly well-to-do property developer, and incorrigible pleasure-seeker. He's a charming dinner party host and everyone likes him, in part because he avoids conflict at all costs. He knows that Jodi knows about his frequent dalliances, but neither he nor Jodi ever bring it up in conversation.
Jodi and Todd's strained relationship snaps when Todd begins a serious affair with a woman half his age. Jodi has endured Todd's one night stands, but his recent weekend "fishing trip" pushes her to escalate her silent revenge tactics to a dangerous level.
I'm not giving anything away when I tell you that Todd's affair with the young woman (who also happens to be the daughter of his best friend - yikes) is the reason Jodi becomes a killer. The author, A.S.A. Harrison, reveals this on page 2. But that's OK. There are two other mysteries in the book, both of which are satisfyingly revealed by the end.
The Silent Wife was Harrison's first novel. She died just weeks before it was published, so she didn't know it would became a massive hit.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects