‘The air hangs heavy in the house, thick with unspoken secrets.’
Why we love it: The way it’s written makes this an easily palatable story. Short, frequent chapters told from the perspective of evanescent Kyra offer mini explosions of conflict and drama every few pages. It is a story of psychological suspense with enough plot twists, inventiveness and originality to satisfy even the most jaded readers of the genre. We recommend it for those who love reading a well-thought-out cerebral thriller.
Kyra Withrop is a thirty-four-year-old marine biologist recovering from a head injury that’s caused severe retrograde and anterograde amnesia, meaning she has difficulty recalling memories from her past, as well as forming new ones. She fractured her skull in a freak diving accident, and is left recovering on a remote island, wondering about the previous life wiped clean from her mind. Her husband Jacob watches over her like a guardian angel, even though Kyra hardly remembers anything about him.
She has a recurring nightmare: “It’s always the same. I’m diving in murky, churning waters, struggling against the current. I wake in a cold sweat.” Through the murkiness of her trauma is a solitary shining light: Jacob is a romantic, patient man who spends his days helping Kyra recalibrate her memory, even though there are moments in their lives together – such as their wedding day – that are irretrievable. And even though Jacob has an answer for everything, Kyra sometimes finds his narratives hard to believe.
It doesn’t take long for Kyra to become paranoid. The clips of memory she can retrieve allude to dark secrets: talk of murder, infidelity, and betrayal. Is she being deceived by the ones she loves? But it’s not only friends and family she’s paranoid about, but also herself, thinking what secrets would I hide to save my marriage?
Paranoia transforms into sheer hallucination. Memories drift in and out of reality like poltergeists from the past. And along the way, the possibility of deception becomes all too real.
At its heart, however, A. J. Banner’s novel is about love. Beyond Kyra’s amnesia is her relationship with Jacob, rock-solid in appearances, and the weaving and fraying caused by her faint glimmers of a potential affair with Aiden Finlay, Jacob’s best mate.
In the galaxy of mystery books it’s tough to shine above the rest, but Banner has done so with The Twilight Wife by offering a fresh take on psychological suspense. In a way, this novel doesn’t suffer from the usual human emptiness found in page-turning crime books because it is focused on those universal things – love and memory and truth and recovery – that resonate long after reading.
Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. Banner received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her first novel of psychological suspense, The Good Neighbor, was the #1 Kindle bestseller for thirty-four days and was named by Harper’s Bazaar as a book that could be the next Gone Girl. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five rescued cats.