The Widow by Kaira Rouda #AmazonFirstReads #December2022Books #Thriller #BookReview

“Jody Asher had a plan. Her charismatic husband, Martin, would be a political icon. She, the charming wife, would fuel his success. For fifteen congressional terms, they were the golden couple on the Hill. Life was good. Until he wasn’t.

Martin’s secret affair with a young staffer doesn’t bother Jody personally. But professionally? It’s a legacy killer. Soon a reporter gets word of this scandal in the making, and Martin’s indiscretions threaten to ruin everything Jody has accomplished.

When Martin suddenly dies, it’s a chance to change the narrative—but the reporter won’t let go of his lead. As the balance of power shifts in the Asher house and on the Hill, it’s time for Jody to take control. And there’s nothing the ruthless widow won’t do to secure the future she’s entitled to. Even if she has a secret of her own.”

I used to dream of a life in politics, or as a politician’s wife, in Washington. But after attending a conference in D.C. when I was in high school for future leaders, I realized I did not have the personality nor cut-throat attitude to survive in that city. I quickly pivoted to other interests, but I kept reading political thrillers set in our nation’s capital. I veered away from the genre since having kids but dip my toe in the waters once in a while. The Widow by Kaira Rouda (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) is such a book, full of intrigue, duplicitous actions, and people you love to hate. This was my Amazon First Reads book for November and is currently $4.99 with a $1.99 Audible addition, or available on Kindle Unlimited.

As expected, Jody is not a likeable character. Of course, she’s not. She’s the villain of the story, full of machinations to stay in power, collecting secrets, using them as political capital. Or is she? On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, her world is about to change when a news story is about to drop implicating her husband, Martin, in an affair with someone in his office. Told from both Jody and Martin’s point-of-view at the beginning of the book, the reader gets a peak at their world. There’s also the POV of a think-tank operator who knows Martin and Jody from their days in college. Now don’t worry if you don’t understand how Washington, D.C. works. There’s only talk of Democrats and Republicans, not the intricacies of bills in Congress or the like.

There’s also narration with tips on how to be a successful Congressman’s wife, or how to be a successful Congressman, which seem antiquated and from the 1950’s until you realize who is narrating them. And how spot on they are in some of today’s lawmakers, like one of our state’s Senators, who seems firmly entrenched in the past. But I digress:-) The instructions in the book really do seem like they come from an earlier time, when using calling cards was the norm.

This book is easily digestible and can be finished quickly because you always want to know what happens next. The journalist who knows more than Jody thinks he does, the death of the congressman (was he poisoned? It’s never clear), and the intentions of their college friend, Mimi, something just doesn’t add up. Until it does. Slowly, revelations are made and the bigger picture is revealed. It was not what I was expecting, which is what I like about these books set in Washington. I can’t think like the players, so the results always come as a surprise.

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