The Optician’s Wife: a compelling new psychological thriller by Betsy Reavley


“Can you ever really know someone?

When Deborah, an unpopular seventeen-year-old, meets the charming and handsome Larry, he sweeps her off her feet. The trouble is Larry has a secret.

Then a series of grisly murders cast a shadow over everything.

As Deborah’s world starts to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal. And to keep their marriage alive, sacrifices must be made.

A compelling, psychological thriller that unpicks what goes on behind closed doors and reminds us that sometimes the worst crimes can take place closer to home than you think.”

I think this is going to be a very difficult review to write.  And I don’t mean that in a negative way, there are so many amazing things I could say about this book.  It’s more to do with spoilers and wanting YOU to enjoy this book as much as I did.  Why don’t you go and buy a copy and then I don’t have to worry about saying something I shouldn’t! Here’s the link: BUY THIS BOOK!

It’s the early 1980’s.  Deborah considers herself rather insignificant and unimportant.  She lost her mother several years ago and being the eldest daughter ended up taking on her mother’s responsibilities. At the tender age of 17 she is chief cook and bottle washer to her father and younger sister. Not that they show any gratitude.  She has a small part time job in Woolies which she doesn’t necessarily enjoy but it gets her out of the house.

One day, whilst at lunch she meets good-looking, charismatic, trainee optician Larry who shows an immediate interest in her. She can’t understand why, but he seems sincere if not a little…controlling?  Buying new clothes for her and getting her hair cut, just as he wants it.

Cambridge is rocked when a killer starts a murderous spree in the historic city. Random women are the killer’s target; they have nothing in common but are strangled, their eyes are savagely cut out then their bodies are dumped in the river.

Debbie and Larry’s relationship meanwhile blossoms and before long they are engaged. She should be happy, a glowing bride to be, but things just don’t feel right for Debbie. Surely her knight in shining armour couldn’t be responsible for the horrific murders, could he…?

This is the first time I have read a novel by Betsy Reavley but I can guarantee it won’t be the last.  Her style of writing is so absorbing that I was totally entranced by her story and her characters.  There aren’t many of the aforementioned characters to like in this novel as they are all deeply flawed in their own way.  I did however enjoy how Debbie’s confidence grew over time, even if it wasn’t for the best.  I really disliked her at points, particularly when she was interacting with her children.  She’s certainly not going to win parent of the year any time soon!

The story is mainly told from Debbie’s perspective so you don’t always get to find out what Larry is thinking or feeling.  From his very first introduction he felt like pure evil.  Some of the chapters are dedicated to the killer’s thoughts and feelings pre-kill, which I loved. They added to the suspense of the story and are cleverly written by Reavley.

Towards the end of the book I was feeling quite tense.  The build up to the conclusion gave me palpitations, so much so that I needed to sit quietly with a  cuppa!  I adore a book that can do that to you.  What’s the point of reading if you don’t feel something?

Would I recommend this book?  If you’re looking for a psychological thriller to knock your socks off then yes, most definitely.  (I shouldn’t need to recommend it though as you’ve already clicked on the link at the top, right?!)

Five out of five stars.

Many thanks to Betsy Reavley for providing me with a copy of The Optician’s Wife in exchange for an honest review.

The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 18th June 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | | |

Smith & Sons (11)


Betsy Freeman Reavley was born in Hammersmith, London.
As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer. 

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Reavley says “I think people are at their most fascinating when they are faced with life’s real horrors.” This is what I love to write about.

Betsy Reavley currently lives in North London, with her husband 2 children, dog, cat and chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @BetsyReavley

13 thoughts on “The Optician’s Wife: a compelling new psychological thriller by Betsy Reavley

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