When I looked at the title and the cover, I thought James Patterson and his partner had written a “Chick Book.” Its main characters are women, but it is filled with action and suspense and hardly a hint of romance. The book captures your attention at once. A woman is in prison and suffering torture and deprivation. We immediately wonder why. But, Abbie Elliot is tough and vows to gain her freedom whatever the obstacles.
Four friends, Abbie, Winnie, Serena and Bryah, are fed up with their stagnant marriages and head to Monte Carlo for a getaway weekend. Serena, a former Olympic Skier with a rich husband, supplies each of the women with 50,000 Euros and exhorts them to live it up.
In the casino, they drink a lot, gamble a lot and hook up with four attractive men( Luc, Devo, Damon and Francois) and a chubby American. After much flirting, touching and nuzzling the group takes off in Devo’s car to a boat owned by the chubby American. The women and four attractive men have a sexual orgy fueled by liquor and drugs. During the night, Abbie hears a Pop-Pop-Pop. She is drunk and stoned, dismisses it and goes back to sleep.
In the morning the women are startled by the invasion of the French Police, Gendarmes in riot gear, and French Military. The four attractive men have disappeared and the chubby American, who owns the boat, is in a daze. The women are horrified to learn that Luc and Devo have been murdered in Devo’s car on the dock just feet from the boat.
The women are taken into custody and accused of the murders. The four are baffled by the huge press of French Police, Intelligence Service and military. They are shocked to learn that Devo is Henrik Devareaux, the French President and Luc is his bodyguard. The two had somehow slipped off from their protective detail and disguised themselves in order to have a fling in Monte Carlo.
Forensic evidence, the discovery of the gun in Abbie’s purse and testimony from Damon and others build a damning case against the four friends. In addition, the investigation reveals that Winnie has been having a long term affair with the French President and sponsored the girls’ weekend to be with him once again.
The police use all kinds of pressure and subterfuge to force the women to confess. All but Abbie finally give in. She is adamant that she is innocent and refuses any deal. Since she holds out, the whole group goes to trial. They are convicted and Winnie, Serena and Abbie are sentenced to life in prison while Brayh is given 30 years.
The French women’s prison where they are incarcerated is horrible and the guards brutal. However, Abbie holds out even when the prison warden conspires with someone outside the prison and has Winnie murdered.
After a year, Abbie is scheduled by the warden to be killed. She senses the maneuver and uses the occasion to engineer an escape. Her escape creates a suspenseful chase across France until Abbie and her lawyer are able to gain the evidence to expose the real perpetrators of the crime.
James Patterson hardly ever disappoints me and Guilty Wives is a nail biter and page turner from the Prologue. The ending was most plausible and hints related to the conclusion were dropped throughout the book. Buy it, read it, you’ll love it.