When little Bella went missing four years ago, seemingly disappearing into thin air from her front yard, all of England was on the lookout for the precious two year old. As The Widow opens, we meet Jean Taylor, whose husband, Glen, has just been killed in a freak accident. Now that Glen is dead and she is newsworthy again, Jean has been hiding in her house from the reporters who have started camping out on her front walk.
Cormoran Strike is a private detective who has just broken up with his on-again/off-again girlfriend of fifteen years. He's living in his office, where he gets almost daily calls asking for the money he owes for the business. Robin is a temp sent from an agency to help run his office, although she quickly discovers that there's not much to do because there's not much business. Out of the blue, in walks a man asking Strike to investigate the death of his sister, Lula Landry.
Brutally raped and murdered, Kate Sumner’s body washes ashore on a remote bank in Southern England. Elsewhere, her 3-year-old daughter is found abandoned. The police are left to figure out why Kate was murdered but Hannah, a witness to the crimes, was left unharmed. Did the killer know or sense that Hannah was unable to speak and communicate the events she witnessed? Why was Kate so far from home, and why on board a boat when she hated sailing?