At the start of JP Delaney’s propulsive The Perfect Wife, Abbie wakes up in pain, hooked up to machines and with only vague memories of what transpired before. Was she in a car crash? Her tech-genius husband, Tim, is there and tells her that he and their nine-year-old son, Danny, are fine, that everything’s fine. He promises to fill in the gaps in Abbie’s memory after he takes her home.
She learns there was an accident five years ago, and Tim has spent all that time devoted to bringing her back. But soon Abbie starts finding hidden items around the house that indicate their relationship wasn’t exactly how Tim describes it. As Abbie digs deeper into what happened before the incident, she realizes the truth could mean an end to her newfound life.
Plot points are minimal here because it’s best to dive into Perfect Wife with as little information as possible. Delaney (The Girl Before) has written a swiftly paced and thought-provoking psychological thriller, touching on complex issues such as how much technology should be allowed to run our lives and what defines humanity. It asks big questions about sentience and life and death itself.
Delaney is far from preachy, though; he wraps these big ideas in a spellbinding and suspenseful story that is constantly surprising and often makes the skin crawl. It’s also poignant in unexpected ways (based on some of Delaney’s personal experiences, according to the acknowledgments) and reminds readers that compassion is what separates humans from machines.
This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.