The Black Widow

Wendy Corsi Staub

In a chilling new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub, one woman looking for love online is entangled in a killer's terrifying scheme . . .

 

In the moonlight, shovelfuls of earth fall on a wooden crate at the bottom of a deep pit. Soon the hole will be filled and covered over with leaves, erasing all trace of the victim below, waking to the horror of being buried alive . . .

 

Newly divorced Gaby Duran isn't really expecting to find her soul mate on a dating site like InTune. She just needs a distraction from pining over her ex-husband, Ben, and the happy marriage they once had. And she's wise enough to know that online, the truth doesn't always match the profile. Almost everyone lies a little—or a lot.

 

But Gaby quickly discovers there is much more at stake than her lonely heart. Local singles are going missing after making online connections. And a predator is searching again for the perfect match. One who will fulfill every twisted desire . . . or die trying.

The writing flows, the pace is maintained throughout, and there are enough twists and chills to keep thriller fans happy.

 

Alex Jones is the femme fatale. A serial killer with an underground bunker, she’s trawling online dating sites for a specific kind of man, and for a specific purpose. This predator drugs her dates, keeping them alive as she takes three pregnancy tests. And if she’s not pregnant by the third, it’s three strikes and you’re out, buried underground!

 

A well-crafted serial killer Alex has depth and an interesting backstory that unrolls as the story develops. This insight, and indeed her motive, is revealed from her POV.

 

It’s not long before sleazy Carlos Diaz is looking to get lucky but this time he’s picked the wrong date.

 

Running alongside this tense hostage situation, we follow Gaby as she joins the online dating scene. The once carefree Gaby is a thing of the past, along with her marriage and only child. Grief, over the death of her son Joshua, ruined her marriage with Ben, and has left her cynical to the idea of a new relationship. An insistent cousin, Jaz, encourages her to get back on the horse and try a popular dating site in New York. Gaby soon meets Ryan who seems nice and she has fun. Maybe her cousin was right. Then, on a date at Yankee Stadium, she bumps into Ben, her ex, who’s also back in the dating game (he’s signed up for the same site). Gaby resents Ben. She had blamed him for their infant son’s death, and is now appalled that he may be using the death to help attract women, but they were once happy, could they be again?

 

Within each chapter the narrative switches perspective, often alternating between Alex and Gaby (but not exclusively). This structure works. The narrative flows easily because the characters and their situations are well defined.

 

The stories combine in chilling fashion as the tension cranks up in this novel of entertaining plot and strong characters - including NYPD Detectives Sully and Stockton, a fine duo with a male/female mix, warm banter and rookie presence – and themes of Immigration, gentrification, aging, family, grief and love.

Wendy Corsi Staub:

Wendy Corsi Staub is the New York Times bestselling author of eighty published books, best known for the psychological suspense novels she writes under her own name. Two of her recent thrillers, LIVE TO TELL (HarperCollins 2010) and SLEEPWALKER (HarperCollins 2012), were finalists for the prestigious MWA Simon and Schuster Mary Higgins Clark award, four have won the Washington Irving Prize for Fiction, and her latest release, THE GOOD SISTER (HarperCollins 2013) was honored as one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Reads of 2013.

 

Several books have been optioned for film and television and she has won numerous industry awards including the RWA Rita, the Romantic Times Career Achievement in Suspense, and the Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement.

 

Her novella COLD HEARTED is a prequel to her upcoming novel THE PERFECT STRANGER (HarperCollins, on sale 7/29/14), the second in a trio of social networking thrillers that will conclude with THE BLACK WIDOW (February 2015). She is under contract with HarperCollins to write a new suspense trilogy set in the fictional Hudson Valley village Mundy’s Landing.