In The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd, From the first time Samantha watched the documentary Framing the Truth, she was intrigued with its subject: supposed killer Dennis Danson who has been sitting on Death Row for about two decades. She might be just a mousy schoolteacher in England, but even Sam can see that something isn’t right with how the case was handled. And she’s not the only one who thinks so. It turns out there are blogs and message boards filled with those who think Dennis is innocent and who are actively trying to assist his efforts to get his verdict overturned.
“You know, you’re either on their side, or you’re on mine.”
“I am on your side,” Sam said. Suddenly she felt terrible, as if she’d betrayed him.
“You’re my wife,” he said, his voice softer. “I need you to trust me.”
“They just scared me,” she said. “I’ll always be on your side.”
Sam is determined to do her part in helping Dennis. But what starts out as innocent letters written to him, asking if there is anything she can do to assist, soon turns romantic in nature. There is a bond between them that is evident to Sam and those closest to Dennis. Soon enough, she travels to America to help the efforts on his home soil in Florida and so they can finally meet in person. From there everything is a blur. An engagement, a quickie wedding and Dennis’s release leave Sam reeling. She’s excited to start her new life with her now famous husband. But as she learns more about his past, the people in his hometown, and the many secrets that have been hidden, she wonders if she made a terrible mistake.
‘She felt suddenly very alone, as though the person she married had never existed and she had woken up to a life she didn’t recognize, in the middle of a story she didn’t understand.’
A suspenseful thriller that will leave you wondering up until the very end, The Innocent Wife was a heart-pounding debut by Amy Lloyd.
‘All that time she’d longed to be held by him, kissed, touched. Had she been pressing herself into the grasp of a monster?’
Where to even begin. I should probably start by saying this book will be a tough sell for some readers. There were rather explicit details of murder, suicide and abuse. And I honestly thought at times that every single character here was nuts in some way. (lol) However, this was a highly readable, well written novel that–even though the situation was completely messed up–held me in its grip the whole time. So I have to give Amy Lloyd kudos for capturing and keeping my interest with such a complicated, at times harrowing, story.
I won’t get into whether Dennis did or did not kill Holly Michaels, as that’s something that is pieced together throughout the story–and I’ll let readers figure out what they think happened on their own. But I have to say that Sam and Dennis’s relationship was kind of a train wreck waiting to happen. I couldn’t figure out if he was looking for someone to support him and make him look more stable and respectable, helping to aid his release from Death Row. Or if he truly had feelings for her. Told from Sam’s POV, it was clear that she had some emotional (and perhaps mental?) issues herself that made her vulnerable to Dennis. There was a whole backstory with her previous boyfriend that we also learned about, little by little. For me, unfortunately none of the characters were really that relatable or endearing, including the secondary cast we met. It was the plot and the intensity of the story itself that I enjoyed overall.
Filled with small town corruption, lies, and depravity, The Innocent Wife takes readers on a tangled journey that ends on a somewhat positive note…but with just enough questions remaining to keep you wondering.
Publication: March 6th 2018 | Hanover Square Press |
A young schoolteacher falls for a man on death row who she believes is falsely accused, only to begin wondering again after their marriage—and his release.
Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer—style true-crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm. The filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.
Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry him and campaign, as his wife, for his release.
But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Samantha discovers new details that begin to suggest he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?