The Third Wife is one of the earlier works by Lisa Jewell and came out in 2014, i.e., much before she made it big with psychological and domestic crime fiction. This one almost reads like a cross-over work and cannot be categorized into one genre, per se. It's a domestic drama with some crime and psychological thriller elements.
The protagonist, Adrian, lost his third wife (Maya) to an accident. He is still coping with the tragedy, but then he stumbles upon another woman, Jane, who mysteriously leaves behind her phone in his house and suddenly disappears. But pretty soon, it becomes clear that she might have had something to do with Maya's death and how Adrian, with the help of his 'extended family and Children, tries to solve the secret behind the mystery girl is what The Third Wife is all about.
With a rather implausible and unbelievable plot, The Third Wife could have quickly become a work that could top anyone's DNF (did not finish) list, but thanks to Jewell's impeccable skills, this one ends up as a page-turner.
Adrian is one of the most unlikeable characters I have come across recently, and the premise around his extended family feels like a bit of a stretch. The book explores Adrian's transformation from a selfish, self-centered man to a more mature and considerate human being and could have quickly become a boring read. Still, the mystery around Jane and Maya keeps the proceedings interesting. The final reveal might be a bit underwhelming, but by the time the reader has figured out what is happening, the Novel reaches its climax, and full marks to Lisa for maintaining the suspense intact. The author has handled the core themes of stalking, cyberbullying, and shared responsibilities maturely and sensitively.
Coming to the negatives, as I mentioned earlier, this one is essentially a family drama. The climax portions involving Adrian's children and their secret letters try desperately to manipulate the readers emotionally and end up as cringe-worthy stuff. There are very few characters in the story who are relatable and believable. The mystery around Jane and her stalking Adrian comes a cropper, and by the time you get to know the real reason 'behind' her acts, you can't help thinking about the silliness of it all! There is also too much 'feel-goodness' in the middle portions of the Novel, which makes some of the final revelations in the climax predictable stuff.
On the whole, The Third Wife is an okay read. It's not your typical psychological thriller. If a passable domestic drama with a little bit of mystery is your kind of read, then do give this one a try!