An indefinite stay in a French prison is not the expected culmination of any girls’ getaway weekend, no matter how “Gone Wild” the girls are, and it is certainly not something these privileged women anticipated. Four beautiful and well to do women are on a four day holiday in Monaco, compliments of the wealthiest woman, Serena, whose husband Simon is a billionaire. The other friends are Winnie, an English woman, Bryah, a copper-skinned South African and Abby, an American. All are on this trip without their husbands and plan to spend the four days partying and enjoying every moment of their holiday. To ensure that everyone experiences the thrill of high stakes gambling and luxurious pampering in Monte Carlo, Serena gives each of the women envelopes containing 50,000 Euros and tells them to spend it all. Following a day of spa treatments and limitless champagne, the women try their luck in the casino where they flirt with attractive men.
Their second night includes more partying and they wind up on a large yacht, drunk and with the men they had met in the casino the night before. Abby’s escort is a famous movie star who does not accompany her to the yacht, so she stays above while the others venture off to cabins with their new weekend lovers. She is delighted when he joins her later, and they spend the night together, too. In the morning, the women are awakened by yelling and police sirens coming from the dock. When the police order them off the yacht, they learn that two of the men who’d been part of their group have been found murdered in a car parked at the harbor. The man the women knew as Divo was really the French president in disguise, so what would have been a street crime turns into a possible terrorist attack. After days of interrogation, the French officials are convinced that the women are part of a conspiracy to assassinate the president. No one is allowed to see the women for days, and when no one confesses to the crime, the police decide that Abby is the assassin. The fact that the gun which killed the French president is found in Abby’s purse seals her fate, and she and the others are sent to a women’s prison near Paris.
Patterson and Ellis craft an intriguing plot centered around the women’s existence in the wretched prison and Abby’s determination to escape and learn who set them up. The authors do an excellent job of providing information about foreign criminal investigation and incarceration, taking the reader as a witness into the French court and prison systems. The reader’s ability to transition from American to English to French accents adds authenticity to the listening experience.
This fast-paced suspense thriller will not disappoint mystery fans. Not only is the plot intricate and gripping, it allows the authors to explore themes of infidelity, betrayal, revenge and redemption, giving the listener a richer experience than merely trying to guess the outcome. Guilty Wives is an exceptionally enjoyable and entertaining choice for a trip across town or cross-country.
Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis
Read by January LaVoy
Hachette Audio, unabridged: 10.5 hours on 9 CDs