Like many popular mysteries, “The Other Mrs.” by Mary Kubica has multiple narrators, but in this psychological suspense novel, readers are lead down the wrong dark path. Or rather, we are led down a path that goes in the right direction, but we completely miss the shady crooked path that goes to the heart of the mystery.
Sadie and Will and their two sons move to an island off the coast of Maine when Will’s sister dies and leaves her home and her teenage daughter in their care. They are ready for a new start after years of living in Chicago. Slowly, Kubica reveals that life in Chicago is not the wonderful life that Sadie and Will might have wished for. In fact, their son was in trouble at school, Sadie’s job was threatened, and Will made some serious mistakes in his personal life. So moving to Maine was the right thing to do — at least that’s what Will promised Sadie.
Sadie, a former ER physician, finds a job at the island’s clinic. They are desperate for a second physician because their remoteness, only a ferry to the mainland, means that the residents rely on the clinic for much of their health care. But Sadie isn’t settling in at the new clinic because the two other employees there don’t seem to like her.
In fact, too often Sadie seems like an unlikeable person. She is often short with her younger son, Tate, when he wants to play with her. She doesn’t connect much with her teenage son, Otto, who has experienced much in his short life. And she seriously doesn’t trust Imogen, Will’s niece, who is hostile and troubled since finding the dead body of her mother who had committed suicide after a life of extreme pain from fibromyalgia. In many respects, Will appears devoted to the children and to Sadie’s well-being. Because his job as a college professor is only for a few days a week, he cooks, does laundry, and is basically the stay-at-home parent.
What that means is that Will has the time to get to know the neighbors and the parents of their children’s friends because Sadie’s job is all-encompassing. She relies on Will as she is often scatterbrained and unorganized, losing track of time and belongings.
But when a neighbor is murdered across the street, everyone on the small island is shaken up. And the investigating police officer, Officer Berg, seems to suspect that Sadie is somehow involved, even though she had never met the murder victim, Morgan Baines, who lived with her new husband and his daughter from a previous marriage.
We come to suspect what is happening on one level, and we think we know how to connect the various narrators, but Kubica is diabolical in her ability to mislead and misdirect. The ending is ingenious and satisfying in the extreme, even if there are a few lingering questions.