Written by: Mack Moyer
The Deceiver from Dark Fuse author Kelli Owen takes that nagging unease you feel when you’re not quite sure who your girlfriend is at the bar with and multiplies it with death. Sure, your girl can explain why she was pounding shots with frat boys, but not if she’s dead.
Which is what happens to Matt after his wife, Tania, is murdered on one of her frequent business trips. When the police return her luggage, Matt finds a journal stashed inside and discovers that Tania was possibly jumping on multiple meat hammers during her excursions.
Oh, and there’s a chance the recently deceased was also a murderer. But that’s not important. (Well it is, but I’m focusing on the theme here.)
Matt is gripped by a fear that most of us can relate to when it comes to our significant others: How well do we really know this person?
Outside of infected teeth and really bad paper cuts, being betrayed by someone we love is the most crushing feeling we can experience. When you love someone and they say they love you back, you’re pretty much taking their word for it. You give yourself to that person, trusting they don’t put a bootprint on your ticker.
I felt pretty bad for Matt, except for one thing: He wasn’t all that great at monogamy himself. A bout of marriage counseling helped bring Matt and Tania back together and she ends up forgiving him.
Which is why I kind of wanted to slap him when, upon discovering his wife’s infidelities, immediately lays on some post-mortem slut shaming.
This is a character flaw, not a narrative one. Author Kelli Owen skillfully shows us that Matt’s rage might be fueled, at least partly, by his own insecurities. Yeah, it sucks that your wife is dead, and possibly a cock-craving murderer, but c’mon bro. Take it easy.
Because it always seems like male infidelity is more socially acceptable than the female variety. There’s not as much of a stigma for a dude who sows his wild oats. But when a girl wants to receive some of those sticky, sticky oats, society brands her a whore.
It just seems a little unfair, is what I’m saying.
I wish this story, already novella sized, had been a little shorter. There’s a bit of excessive sentimentality at first. Also, there are a number of coincidences – some more believable than others – that distracted me, but nothing deus-exy.
It’s a solid story, albeit a difficult one if you’ve ever been cheated on. And who hasn’t?