The Perfect Marriage: the novel’s criminal ending, explained

The Perfect Marriage By Jeneva Rose

The Perfect Marriage is a 2020 thriller suspense novel written by Jeneva Rose. The plot focuses on a wife defending her husband who’s accused of his “mistress’s” murder in court. Let’s see who the criminal is.

Spoilers ahead!

The couple’s ominous 10-year anniversary

D.C. criminal attorney Sarah Morgan is rushing to work and Adam is upset as she can’t come celebrate their anniversary at their lake house- an hour’s drive away in Virginia. Adam, a currently unsuccessful writer, goes alone to the lake house.

He’s having an affair with Kelly Summers, a local barista, for the past 16 months. She comes over that day and they have sex. Since they drank, Adam’s memories are a bit rusty when he wakes up in darkness.

He leaves Kelly with a note implying “she’s his love” and goes home to Sarah. Sarah has been hesitant to start a family but suddenly that night, she says yes to it and Adam decides that he’ll leave Kelly.

Adam’s life is upended

Next morning, Adam is taken into custody for the murder of Kelly- stabbed 37 times in his bed at the lake house. He’s shocked. So is Sarah when she hears about it after her hearing. She rushes there, keeping her emotions in check, and decides to represent Adam.

The evidence is stacked against him. His coddling mother who dislikes Sarah condescends her at every turn. She tries her hardest to get evidence at the earliest, with mixed signals from the town’s Sheriff, and lack of plausible plots.

Kelly’s mysterious life- where does that lead?

Kelly is Jenna Way, accused of killing her first husband Greg Miller, who was acquitted due to unsupportive evidence- apparently misplaced by Scott, the officer in that case. They fled and she adopted a new identity in Virginia, marrying Scott.

Take into account the presence of a 3rd DNA taken from her body, it feels like she was involved with someone else as well. A picture of Adam and her taken at the house with words “end it or I will” written on the back is found too.

One fight starts for him, another internal fight for Sarah

The trial is speedy. In the two weeks leading to the court date, things are messed up to the brim.

On one hand, Sarah is dealing with her co-worker Bob’s pushiness, and sending Anne, her friend and assistant to gather leads. Her best-friend fellow lawyer Matthew has come over to support. They focus on a guy Jesse Hooks for his obsession with Kelly- a likely suspect.

On the other hand, Adam is under house arrest at the lake house, disbelieving his fate and going crazy. His stagnant writing career sees hope when his agent calls him for a book deal based on his current situation. A reporter named Rebecca comes to interview him but he pays her to find information about the case for him- he seemingly doesn’t trust Sarah, withholding information from her.

A hope for Adam- or a false hope?

Adam discovers a breakthrough. The handwriting on the back of the picture found matches with Anne- Sarah’s assistant. Rebecca uncovers details on Greg’s family- Nicolas Robert Miller being his brother- the lawyer Sarah works with. But even with all these facts, nothing conclusive comes to surface. Finally, the trial begins.

Sarah, on her end, sent DNA tests from different people to be checked even though they’d be inadmissible. And she finds a connection- one not presented in court. They jury comes to a decision quickly-…

Fast forwarding 11 years

Adam was convicted. It’s the day of his execution and Sarah has come to meet him for the last time. She’s aloof and distant, planning to remarry tomorrow. She meets Adam, hears him and counts the minutes till the end. When the time’s up, she whispers to Adam that she knows for a fact that he’s not the killer.

Adam is dumbfounded by the comment. He mulls over it. As he’s taken to the gurney, he thinks back on his life and it clicks. He sees Sarah’s manipulative controlling side, unaware of it all the time, as he’s executed.

Who killed Kelly Summers?

At last, it’s revealed that Sarah killed Kelly. She knew about their affair from Bob, who believed Jenny killed his brother. If she divorced him, half her assets would go to Adam. So, she forms a plan. A plan who’d benefit both. She plans every minute detail, every possibility- she’s the best criminal attorney after all. And Adam plays into her hands.

She killed Kelly, solidifying their alibi. A collateral damage in what Adam did to her. He was spoiled by his mother, not independent, living off her, and even if she loved him, she didn’t want any liability. The 3rd DNA was of Sheriff Stevens, not presented because it didn’t matter.

Now, with their 8-year-old daughter Summer, Bob and Sarah are planning to live their happily ever after- in the lake house they kept.

We don’t know Kelly’s story. Was she really the victim or was she cunning? What we know is a complex story. The ending seemed rushed and unsatisfying- especially because of Sarah’s point-of-view chapters. Some questionable plot-holes but a quick thrill read.