2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · suspense · thriller

New Release Book Review: Black Widows by Cate Quinn

Title: Black Widows

Author: Cate Quinn

Published: January 27th 2021

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 320

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars


The only thing the three women had in common was their husband.
And, as of this morning, that they’re each accused of his murder.

Blake Nelson moved into a hidden stretch of land – a raw paradise in the wilds of Utah – where he lived with his three wives:

Rachel, the chief wife, obedient and doting to a fault.
Tina, the other wife, who is everything Rachel isn’t.
And Emily, the youngest wife, who knows little else.

When their husband is found dead under the desert sun, the questions pile up.
But none of the widows know who would want to kill a good man like Blake.

Or, at least, that’s what they’ll tell the police…


‘You think my husband would have been murdered? My voice comes out all throaty. Like the words can’t get past the grief. ‘Everybody loved Blake. Who would want to hurt him?’

Travel and lifestyle journalist Cate Quinn branches away from her previous work to produce her first modern thriller. A gripping and page turning read, inciting much speculation, Black Widows is a dark whodunnit.

When Blake Nelson is found murdered in a remote location in Utah, he leaves behind three wives. These women are members of a cult following the values of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Black Widows sees this trio deal with aftermath of their husband’s shock death. While first wife Rachel takes the lead, the other wives follow along with the scathing investigation. With intense scrutiny placed on each of the wives, their past histories are slowly revealed. With more questions than answers, these widows seem to have no idea of who killed their beloved – or do they? A tough case for the police to crack, will Blake’s killer be apprehended?

I was eager to delve into the pages of Black Widows, the first contemporary thriller offering from historical fiction novelist and journalist Cate Quinn. I was hooked from the opening of this one, right up until the bitter end. Black Widows proved to be a page turning thriller.

The narration of Black Widows is shared between the three wives of the murdered husband figure of this tale. Quinn does an amazing job of reaching inside the mindset and past lives of these three very different women. We learn that although these women shared the same spouse and lifestyle, each woman has a contrasted life journey. Each wife is very unique in their personality traits, beliefs and actions. I appreciated the chance to get to know Rachel, Emily and Tina. My sympathies as well as my suspicions were aroused at different points of this novel. Black Widows is a distracting novel that takes the reader on a number of divergent pathways.

There is no doubt that Cate Quinn has done her homework on this one, especially in the areas of polygamy and religion. We are privy to the unique belief systems, culture, practices, rules, regulations and ideals of the cult depicted in the novel. There are times when Black Widows takes quite a sinister route. We are exposed to a fair amount of darkness in term of control, abuse, sexual relations, pregnancy, birth, incest and violence. I was able to get through these graphic scenes, but be warned. Quinn treats these thematic ideas with a sense of control and insight.

In terms of the central murder mystery and the police investigation, I enjoyed this aspect of the novel. We are presented with a significant amount of detail on the victim, his wives and his life as part of a cult. There are twists, turns, red herrings, unreliable narrators and suspect figures that work to complicate this investigation. But the wives are the true stars of the show, which is down to Quinn’s intricate character analysis focus. The final outcome was not what I expected at all. Black Widows definitely led me down the beaten track so to speak, but this is the sign of a quality thriller presentation.

Black Widows is a book that I find very easy to recommend. It offers a unique take on the standard thriller format.

Black Widows by Cate Quinn is published by Hachette Australia on January 27th 2021. $32.99.


To learn more about the author of Black Widows, Cate Quinn, visit here.

*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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