Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

Hybristophilia is a paraphilia in which sexual arousal is contingent upon the sexual partner having committed a serious crime. That explains a certain number of men and women, who are drawn to violent offenders. The majority of women (smaller number of men) are attracted to violent offenders simply because they know they are unobtainable.

Writing to someone you know will realistically never be released from prison makes them less of a threat. You can admire a serial killer from the safety of your sitting room without ever having to worry about them chopping you up into tiny pieces.

Samantha fits nicely into the above category. A schoolteacher in the UK with an obsession for a man on Death Row in the US. It's creepy, needy and far from the norm. She never expects her relationship with Dennis to become a living, breathing thing, and she is somewhere between panic and fear when she comprehends that Dennis is about to become a free man.

Lloyd draws some inspiration from a few controversial cases that have been plastered all over the media, such as the West Memphis Three. In 1994 three teenagers were arrested and later found guilty of the murder of three eight-year-old boys. In 2011 they were released on time served with 10 year suspended sentences based on new evidence. Due to media attention and quite a few major celebrities flying the innocence flag for these three men, they are now walking around as free men. At this time no one is serving a prison sentence or being investigated for the murder of those three young boys.

Lloyd turns the spotlight on the question of hype and crusades interfering with the judicial system. Although Dennis seems to be innocent of the murder of one young girl there is still question of what happened to all the other missing girls in his home-town. Is he really a victim of the wrong place and wrong time or do his friends and neighbours know something that isn't tangible, but is enough to convince them of his guilt.

These are the questions Samantha also has to ask herself, although to be perfectly frank she seems to enjoy the excitement of being right in the middle of all the controversy. She also has her own issues with impulse control, jealousy and being borderline criminal. One could say it is a match made in heaven.

If scenarios like this weren't happening all the time in real life I would probably say the author has a great imagination. Unfortunately this story is uncomfortably close to the truth, especially when it comes to the celebrity status given to violent offenders and the pedestals they are put on by other big names in the world of celebrity. Everything is a conspiracy. Nobody could possibly be capable of being an bad person, right? Well we all know that is just a simplistic way of looking through rose coloured spectacles to view the world and the people we are surrounded by.

Lloyd pulls this tale of suspense off with a set of truly unsympathetic characters. Can one feel any empathy with a woman who worships at the feet of a murderer? I guess that is the charm of The Innocent Wife, the feeling of 'what did you expect?'

It's a minefield of guilt and home truths. Many shades of grey instead of clear black and white scenarios. Is the innocent wife perhaps not so innocent?

Buy The Innocent Wife at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @AmyLloydWrites @PenguinUKBooks

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