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After She Wrote Him


After She Wrote Him

As we all know, the mind is a fragile thing. Something traumatic like a personal tragedy can affect how it moves forward and how it addresses reality. If a person doesn’t deal with a significant life event in a healthy way, the mind may take steps of its own to find solace.

In the case of Madeleine, writer of the acclaimed Veronica Killwilly historical mystery series, she has ventured outside her norm and conjured up Edward McGinnity. Unlike Killwilly, an amateur sleuth, Edward is a literary writer of some renown --- and quite a striking fellow. As his story advances, he finds himself unwittingly involved in the murder of a well-known critic, and becomes one of the main suspects. His best friend Willow, who is married to a man Edward considers totally unworthy of her, joins him on the list of possible killers. Edward’s open hostility toward Willow’s husband doesn’t help to convince the police that he’s a benign figure, either.

"Psychologically, it twists the brain time and time again. Plus, there’s the bonus of a murder mystery to solve. All in all, AFTER SHE WROTE HIM satisfies on many levels."

As the investigation progresses, Madeleine begins to create more conflict between Edward and Willow, at the same time as Edward writes Madeleine into his own story. Wait, is she starting to see Willow as a rival? Gradually, she’s been staying home from the office more and turning down as many social obligations as possible so that she can spend all of her time writing. Husband Hugh gently complains about a messy house and the lack of dinner when he gets home --- and seeing her constantly in pajamas. But his words do nothing to help. Instead, Madeleine feels resentment at his lack of understanding. He should know she always becomes deeply involved in her novels. True, maybe a bit more with this one, but Edward is just so compelling.

Madeleine’s obsession with her character might be considered whimsical and simply a byproduct of her crime writing, but for the fact that she’s begun to see suspicious behavior in Hugh almost daily at this point. What’s he up to? Out late at night, inventing excuses that don’t make sense and getting upset when she doesn’t believe him. And his latest: He wants her to quit, to leave off writing --- and give up Edward. Well, that’s out of the question. She just can’t. He’s become too much a part of her life, and she a part of his.

Eventually, Madeleine’s reasons for this blurring of the lines grows clear --- except to her. As this fevered preoccupation with Edward takes over, she crosses the line more and more often, diving deeper into his world and slowly leaving hers behind. Can anyone save her, or has she already gone too far? Will she listen to reason at all now?

While the concept behind this novel is fascinating, I found it challenging at times to keep straight which reality the reader was inhabiting: Edward’s or Madeleine’s. It changes frequently, often from paragraph to paragraph, which may be intended as a device to allow the reader to experience Madeleine’s plight. Psychologically, it twists the brain time and time again. Plus, there’s the bonus of a murder mystery to solve. All in all, AFTER SHE WROTE HIM satisfies on many levels.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on August 4, 2017

After She Wrote Him
by Sulari Gentill