The Silent Wife: A Novel (Will Trent)
What happens when an alleged serial killer is handed a prison sentence only to have other murders occur with the same M.O. after the authorities believe they got the right guy? The killing of young women eight years ago landed Daryl Nesbitt behind bars after being convicted of these crimes. Now everyone thinks they are safe. But are they?
Will Trent, an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation heads to Philips State Prison, a medium-security facility after a riot there takes the life of an inmate. While interviewing those concerned, Trent receives a note from Nesbitt asking to meet with him. Nesbitt swears he was framed by Jeffrey Tolliver, a now-deceased police chief who led the team that put him away and who Nesbitt insists are corrupt. Similar crimes of which he was charged happened after his arrest, and he can offer proof about them. He also states he can supply information about the prison riot that cost a man his life and by giving this knowledge he wants to cut a deal.
The first victim, local college student, Beckey Caterino was savagely attacked and left to die, but survived only to sustain a ruptured spinal cord and is now tied to a wheelchair. She had been discovered lying in the woods by Leslie Truong, who reported what she thought was an accident. When the police arrive, also determining the co-ed fell and was seriously injured, they take Leslie’s statement, then send her on her way without offering an escort back to the college. Soon Leslie goes missing and later is found slain.
Now more violent murders are happening with the victims being dumped in the woods surrounding the local college. Their deaths show the same M.O. that got Nesbitt convicted. This puts additional heat on Trent for he must find the perp who is now raping and killing these women. In addition to this, he is in a quandary about opening a case involving Tolliver.
The news about Jeffrey places a huge burden on Will. Jeffrey is considered a hero, so can he dig into the man's past and maybe find evidence to tarnish his reputation? To make matters worse, Will is in a relationship with Jeffrey's ex, Dr. Sara Linton, medical examiner for the county. He loves her dearly, but could they survive if the hearsay about Jeffrey proves to be true, and he is the one to break the news to Sara?
Living in Atlanta when she met Jeffrey, Sara fell deeply in love with him. "Jeffrey had been a Frank Sinatra kind of man. Respected. Capable. Admired. People naturally wanted to be around him, to follow his lead. Jeffrey had taken it all in stride."
Sara is delighted when Jeffrey chose her and soon, she moves to be closer to him. She insists she wants to live in a rural community, yet her real reason is to get away from the city where she suffered the horror of a violent rape—an item she never discloses to Jeffrey.
The recent murders are proving to be just as heinous and brutal as those from the past, and Trent knows he must find and stop this demon. A search commences to include all the Nesbitt family members, all who come from a bad part of the county and all who hold criminal records.
Another survivor of the women brutally attacked, is Tommi (Thomasina) Humphrey, one of Sara's patients. She seeks Sara’s assistance after her attack but refuses to report the crime. Fortunate to escape with her life, she pleads with Sara to keep it to herself, and Sara respects her privacy due to doctor/patient confidentiality. Though Tommi perseveres from this attack, she is only a shell of her former self. When Trent meets with her, he hopes to gain additional information and maybe get identifying hints about the killer, but Tommi does not have much to offer.
Though painful for them both, Trent needs Sara's help to solve the killings and information from Jeffrey’s old records to exonerate his good name. Things become strained between them, yet there's no turning back. They need to find the truth, though their determination and love for each other will be tested to the limits.
The Silent Wife, the 10th issue in the Will Trent series, is explosive and haunting with an unexpected and chilling ending. The in-depth description of the atrocious crimes against these women is descriptive and not for the faint of heart yet prove the author has done intense research with both criminal and medical cases. The only detrimental aspect of the novel is the chapters of backstory introduced with the current time frame make it somewhat disconcerting to stay on track. Though this can stand alone, it may be beneficial to read previous issues in this series. Nevertheless, the suspense of this thriller is sure to please the most diehard lover of mysteries.