The Winter Wives

The Winter Wives – Linden MacIntyre

When Allen is struck down by a debilitating stroke during a game of golf with his friend and business partner Byron, the relationship between the two begins to deteriorate.  Life-long friends from college – each married to one of a pair of sisters – have to now come up with a plan to deconstruct their business empire built atop drugs and money-laundering while Allen is still cognitive enough to do so.

Byron is dealing with his own problems.  Dementia, a disease that claimed the life of his mother several years earlier, is threatening to afflict Byron as well.  Can Byron keep his wits about him in the face of mounting legal issues and an alleged conspiracy to oust him from the company he, Allen and the Winter Sisters built?

It has been nearly two years since my last run-in with Linden MacIntyre when I picked up his non-fiction book, THE WAKE – the story about a deadly tsunami that ravaged the coast of Newfoundland.  I absolutely loved that one, so when I saw he had a new novel on the way, I jumped at the chance to read it.

McIntyre takes us through the current medical and legal upheaval affecting the lives of the four main characters, while also throwing in flashbacks to help to flesh out the story as the narrative moves along.  It’s clear when Linden elects to jump around, so I was never lost or confused as to when a certain event was taking place.  There were points where I had a hard time putting down the book as there were explosive allegations and moments where the action moved forward without time to take so much as a breath.

With all that said – there is a moment about three quarters of the way through the story that completely took me out of it.  For the majority of the book, I really found myself identifying with Byron and his standoffish nature, his reluctance to move away from his homestead in Nova Scotia where he somewhat secluded himself from the real-world consequences and day-to-day operations of the company Allen and the Winter Sisters built.  However, he does something so seemingly out of character and so repulsive that once it happens, I had a hard time getting back into the story.  I more or less limped over the finish line to find out where everything lay when all the dust settled.

With THE WINTER WIVES, Linden doesn’t exactly make a case for any of the four leads being good people, although we get a pretty strong sense that Byron lives by a particular moral code that’s seemingly absent from the other three.  Once that is broken however, I feel like I’m still being asked to perceive Byron the same way as the author continues to load piles of sympathy on him.  But it feels wrong at this point.  If the complexity of the narrative hadn’t been executed so strongly up to that point, I may have just written the whole thing off.

THE WINTER WIVES is essentially a strong, but ultimately flawed novel.

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