Review: The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland

the 3rd womanTitle: The 3rd Woman

Author: Jonathan Freedland

Genre: Thriller

Series: N/A

Received for review from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads)


Journalist Madison Webb is obsessed with exposing lies and corruption. But she never thought she would be investigating her own sister’s murder.


Madison refuses to accept the official line that Abigail’s death was an isolated crime. She uncovers evidence that suggests that Abi was the third victim in a series of killings that’s been hushed up as part of a major conspiracy.


In a United States that has yielded to the People’s Republic of China, corruption is rife – the government dictates what the ‘truth’ is. With her life on the line, Madison must give up the story, or face the consequences…


The 3rd Woman is a challenging, thought provoking read that at once examines the consequences of kowtowing to another nation with an utterly different culture, and the irrational racial hatred and fear that is so easily stirred in people. With no right and wrong answers, the backdrop of Freedland’s murder mystery is almost more compelling than the stories, and though I know little about American politics, and less about Chinese, felt authentic and believable – the issues presented easily comparable to issues faced in multicultural Britain today.

Madison is an excellent character – likeable for her relentlessness, but flawed and human. Her bullishness with her story gets her results, the risks she takes allow her to make progress, but they also place her friends at risk. She’s reckless and even irresponsible. The weird time dilation of her insomnia was an interesting construct as well. It lent a sort of credibility to the condensed timescale of the novel – it takes place over about a week, but it feels like much more time than that has passed. Madison’s constant state of not knowing what time it is, or how many days have passed, and her wakefulness around the clock give the reader the same sense of disorientation she is feeling, making the experience all the more immersive.

There are a few ‘blogs’ and transcripts of TV interviews – not enough to becoming irritating, sparingly used and for specific purpose. Any more and I might have got annoyed, but to be fair they were an effective way of conveying events in a succinct summary, rather than expending more narrative space to show them in a more traditional fashion.

Overall, a really interesting book. It wasn’t an easy read – the writing was excellent, the world so well realised that I had to keep pausing, thinking hard about the way it compares to life today, how easy it would be to slip in to that sort of political set up. But while all that was going on, there was also a really good story, a murder mystery that was tense and exciting, the stakes astronomically high. Fabulous stuff.

Rating: 5/5


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