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Such a Perfect Wife

by Kate White
HarperCollins, May 2019, $26.99

She was blonde, pretty, a seemingly happy wife and mother. Last seen jogging on a rural road, she disappeared without a trace. What happened to Shannon Blaine? Crime writer Bailey Weggins is one of the many reporters who wants to know. On assignment for the online Crime Beat, the Manhattan-based Weggins travels upstate, to the town of Lake George, where she winds up playing sleuth.

A thriller with a page-turning plot that trumps the cliché-heavy writing, Such a Perfect Wife is the seventh outing for Weggins, whom author Kate White debuted in If Looks Could Kill (2002). Told in Weggins’ “voice”—which includes expletives that appear disingenuous, as though they’ve been thrown in to give the text an “edgy” feel.

White, a former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, has laid out a series of tantalizing clues, some of them related to the still-unsolved, decades-old disappearances of two other young women who were visiting the region. Are the cases linked?

Weggins is a stand-out among the locals in her skirt, cashmere tee, and suede mules. “Miss Fancy Pants,” as Weggins is dubbed by the local sheriff, is further distinguished by her aggressive reporting.

Along the way Weggins encounters a gallery of potential suspects, including the missing woman’s husband and the local church deacon. She also develops a promising friendship with an earthy reporter for the local newspaper.

Located at the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains, Lake George and its surrounding region makes for a picturesque and, yes, mysterious setting. Those small motels that dot the twisty roads can generate all manner of scares, real and imagined. For Weggins, footsteps outside her locked door leads to sleepless nights. Then there’s that white Camry, in the otherwise deserted parking lot, coming and going at odd hours. A deserted lakeside retreat, once operated by the Catholic diocese, is another evocative locale.

Readers will also enjoy following Weggins’ reportorial acumen—which results in breaks in the case. Not so necessary are all the details about the protagonist’s dining choices. The author, who edited the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, details most of Weggins’ meals, glasses of wine (there are many!), and cups of cappuccino.

Based on the shaky financial status of many of today’s news outlets, print and digital, it’s doubtful that Weggins’ editor would authorize those expenses. But he wouldn’t balk at the results of her investigative work.

Pat H. Broeske
Teri Duerr
May 2019