The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley

“When Deborah, an unpopular seventeen-year-old, meets the charming and handsome Larry, he sweeps her off her feet. The trouble is Larry has a secret.

Then a series of grisly murders cast a shadow over everything.

As Deborah’s world starts to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal. And to keep their marriage alive, sacrifices must be made.”

I was a little apprehensive about reading this, having recently read Invisible and The Widow with similar sounding synopsis’ however any doubts I had quickly dissipated.  I was instantly enthralled in the tale of dowdy Deborah and her blooming relationship with Larry, a 1980s Prince Charming.  Larry is a 21 year old trainee optician with the world at his feet, and can give Deborah everything she’s ever wanted in life, but is Larry really all that he seems?

Set in Cambridge in the early 1980s, a spree of savage killings hits the city.  Women are brutalized and have their eyes gouged out leaving everyone looking over their shoulders and locking their doors at night.  All the more reason for Deborah to stay at home safely with Larry and the newly born kids, right?

The novel is written from two perspectives, firstly Dee’s (Larry’s nickname for Deborah) a shy mousy character who changes through the book to become more hardened by life’s events and more detached from her original self, and by the killer’s perspective, an insight into the evil and sadistic world they inhabit.  The further into the book the reader travels the more dark and disturbing both perspectives become leaving the reader wondering how poor Dee’s life ended up where it is.  Controlled and dominated by Larry, Dee is pushed further and further into herself, isolated from her family and former friends. She has no one to rely on except Larry, and no one to share the darkest secrets of her marriage with.

The story moves at a comfortable pace, exciting but not rushed.  There are a few twists and turns along the way, and whilst you might think you have guessed the big reveal at the end, you have only guessed half of it!  I was shocked and delighted at the climatic ending that left me gasping for breath.  This is one of those rare books that will electrify you and disgust you both at the same time.

A must read and a massive 5 stars from me, I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

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