I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy. Publisher: Doubleday (June 2014). Contemporary fiction. Mystery/thriller. Hardcover. 304 pages. ISBN 978-0-395-52855-8.
Murdered at the summer beach house, Oliver Lane leaves behind his daughter Picasso and his wife Diana, the primary suspect. That is until police find out that Oliver not only has a second wife and family but a third. Did these wives conspire to murder Oliver together? What kind of man was Oliver? It’s a mystery told in multiple points of view. There’s 12-year-old Picasso, the wives and the detective.
Picasso’s parts are the best. She’s precocious, smart and curious about the world around her. But she’s rather a loner and unpopular in school. She’s an excellent student, star speller and sassy. [“and, as far as I was concerned, meant I had no chance of ever being considered a proper Southern lady, because I had no intention of ever being gracious or polite to the All That Girls.”] Her close relationship with her father now shattered as she learns a bit more about his deviousness and betrayal.
The wives meet regularly first to share stories about life with Oliver. How he’s manipulative and preyed on their weaknesses. [“These were the other women our husband had married? Didn’t most men prefer a type? Our height, weight, facial features, hair color, skin tones, mannerisms, speech patterns, everything appeared dissimilar. It would be awhile before we understood that Oliver’s initial interest had more to do with our mental states than physical characteristics.”] Then they begin to plan his murder and garner strength from this bond. With three intelligent women working together why wouldn’t they get away with murder. What could go wrong. They don’t factor in Oliver’s dominance and grasp on their hearts despite their protestations.
The detective, relocated from Detroit to move back home to small-town North Carolina, delivers his theories like he’s in an episode of The Thin Man. Very gumshoe detective. Old-fashioned. Made me chuckle and see it in black and white every time. [“Diane Lane had gotten under my skin. A small part of me thought it was possible my brain had fabricated her. Sure she might be a looker, but the rest of it, the chiseled perfection, the helpless fragility, the innocent yet seductive stare, was an overactive imagination at work. Seeing her again would cure me. I’d start sleeping again.”]
I Love You More starts with promise. It’s compelling but lags at times. More Picasso, less detective. Wasn’t the ultimate page-turner I seek in a thriller but still an entertaining summer/weekend read.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Doubleday.
purchase at Amazon: I Love You More: A Novel