Two Dead Wives by Adele Parks review: Don't read it as a standalone novel

Two Dead Wives by Adele Parks is the sequel to Woman Last Seen, and you'll want to read that one first.
Baileys Women's Prize For Fiction Awards 2017
Baileys Women's Prize For Fiction Awards 2017 / Dave Benett/GettyImages

I didn’t realize Two Dead Wives by Adele Parks was the sequel to Woman Last Seen at first. While you don’t need to read the first book for the case, you will want to read it to get to know some of the characters.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley for free in return for an honest review.

I love mystery books. I don’t mind when they’re a sequel and we follow the same detectives solve new cases. After all, I watch a lot of procedural TV, so I don’t mind the same thing in my books as well.

The problem with some sequels is that the author seems to assume you’ll read the books in order. I felt like that was the case with this one. As soon as I started reading it, I felt like I was supposed to know the detectives before this story.

What is Two Dead Wives by Adele Parks about?

The story opens with the potential murder of Kylie Gillingham. It’s “potential” because there is no body. It’s also not an easy case to solve, as it turns out that Kylie was married to two men. Oh yes, she was a bigamist and neither her husbands knew until they learned the truth around the time of her disappearance.

Meanwhile, Stacie Jones comes back from Paris needing radical brain surgery. Her overprotective father will do whatever it takes to keep her under his control, and this medical problem seems like the perfect solution to his problem.

As the case unravels, Kylie’s two sons refuse to believe that their mother is dead. What happens when they end up in the same town as Stacie and her father?

Two Dead Wives review: Too much going on

This is one of those books where I felt like too much was going on. There’s an amnesia plotline that just seems way too over the top and took me out of the story. I don’t want to say much more of that as it will end up giving away the twist at the end.

On top of that, I couldn’t connected to most of the characters. There didn’t seem to be enough depth to them. It took me until around halfway through the book to even care about any of the characters, and not because they were unlikable. They were just a little too bland for me.

I wish I had read Woman Last Seen first, though. That could have helped me connect to DCI Clements and some of the detectives more. I felt like I was supposed to know plenty about them going into this book. Sure, it’s a downside of a sequel—an author needs to avoid repeating too much for those who do read in order but have enough to allow people to read out of order.

One thing I did like was that the book was set during 2020 lockdown. It gave us the complications of the pandemic in the middle of a police investigation. The reminders of the pandemic weren’t too heavy, pulling me too much into a difficult time for a lot of people. That’s the problem with history that is still playing out. However, it’s easy to overlook how difficult police investigations were with travel bans and social distancing.

Stars: 3 out of 5.

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