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Sunday 1 September 2019

‘The Perfect Wife’ by JP Delaney

Published by Quercus Books,
8 August 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78648-852-7

One of the best – and intriguing – things about starting a JP Delaney book is that you know you’re in for a thrilling ride and you also know it’s going to be very different. The Perfect Wife, with its futuristic twist on the wife who delves into the past with unexpected consequences, and the husband with secrets, does not disappoint.

Abbie Scott-Cullen wakes in hospital with no memory of how she came to be there. Her husband Tim, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur is with her. He tells her that she is “artificial”. She is a companion robot – a cobot – made in Abbie’s image and with Abbie’s memories. He created her five years after his wife’s death. But he won’t tell her how Abbie died. And it is when she starts to look into her life with Tim and begins to piece together memories of her marriage that she begins questioning her husband’s motives, and his version of events. Can she really trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever?  

The book alternates between the new Abbie’s story and the couple’s past, showing how the geeky Tim, who was looking for a perfect wife, fell for Abbie, a free-spirited artist. Delaney includes just enough technology to make a story about Artificial Intelligence believable, while focusing mainly on the characters. Abbie is a wonderful character, and it is easy to forget she is a robot as she explores her developing feelings and emotions. The layers of Tim Scott’s character are gradually peeled back and yes, as in all good thrillers, no one is quite who they appear to be.

The Perfect Wife is ingenious and unexpected, with a heart-stopping finale. It is also thought-provoking, and for me, the question at its heart is: what is it that makes us human?

I can’t wait to see what Delaney comes up with next.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley
JP Delaney is the pseudonym of an author who has previously written
award-winning fiction under other names. 

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter, when she was eight. When she grew up, she had to earn a living and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing crime thrillers drawing on her experiences in journalism. Her fourth book set in East Anglia and featuring investigative journalist Alex Devlin, Gone in the Night, was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads in May 2019.

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