What genre are you expecting based on this book title? A Good Marriage could be many genres- historical fiction, chick-lit, romance, but guess what? It’s a crime thriller with a female lawyer as the lead. Not what you expected, I’m sure, but hang onto your hats folks. This was a good one!
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I will be honest and tell you that A Good Marriage was recommended as a great new novel for 2020 but I picked it because of the author. A previous book of Ms. McCreight’s was Reconstructing Amelia and this was one I enjoyed. So, I grabbed this one.
Good choice! The book starts off slow with a slew of characters that took me a while to keep straight. A few chapters in and I was hooked.
The story begins with Lizzie who is working late in her law office when she receives a call from Zach. It has been 15 years since she has heard from him and it seems that he is now in custody and needs her to represent him. This seems very odd to Lizzie since they parted in an unfriendly break-up of a non-relationship (at least from her point of view). She agrees to take on his case which, at the moment, was only for assaulting a police officer- accidentally.
It turns out that Zach did strike the officer, without meaning to, but he seems to have left out the part of the story that the officer was in his house because his wife was lying dead at the foot of the stairs. The title of this book probably did not originate with this couple!
And, about now, the other characters become an integral part of the story. The dead wife is Amanda and she and Zach have a young son named Case. Case is away at summer camp, as are the children of Amanda’s friends. They all live in a posh area of New York and the children all attend a private school.
The friends include Maude and her husband Sebe. This couple has an open relationship in which Maude, and perhaps Sebe, both have sexual encounters with others. In fact, the two host a summer party every year during which the party-goers visit the upstairs of their home and partner up with someone other than the spouse they arrived with. So, on the evening Amanda dies, she and Zach were at this party. Could Zach have killed her because of something that happened at the party?
Then there is Sarah who is Amanda’s employee in a charitable organization. They are friends but Sarah may or may not be part of Zach’s secrets. (They all have secrets.) Sarah’s husband, Kerry, also has been fired from his job and seems to do nothing now. What is up with him?
Amanda also has a friend, Carolyn, that she confides in often, but the friend is never seen by her other friends. Is she part of the murder?
Amanda is increasingly anxious as the book continues because she is being stalked by someone. She writes in her journals about the abuse she suffered from her father and thinks he is stalking her now.
Now, let’s bounce back to Lizzie. Lizzie is married to Sam who is an alcoholic and due to a car accident of his they are deeply in debt. Lizzie is mired in her position at her law firm and cannot cause a ruckus there because they need the money she makes. Despite Zach’s less than honest hiring of her, she decides to take on his case to prove his innocence in the death of his wife. But, is he innocent?
And, also central to the story is the private school. The school’s computer system was hacked and letters were sent to many of the parents about their children. The phony letters allowed access to home computers and the hacker has been able to use information found on those computers to blackmail many of the parents. Hmmmm, how does this connect with Amanda’s murder and Zach’s secrets?
A Good Marriage was a giant jigsaw puzzle that just kept having additional and delicious layers added to it. The chapters alternate in points of view from Lizzie to Amanda, to the school’s problems, and with the grand jury interviews. The school emails and grand jury chapters added more layers to the troubles and secrets all of these characters have. And they all have secrets, but do they have good marriages? Perhaps, not.
Yes, you must read this book! The ending was not what I expected. 4.5 stars!
My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
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