The Web Across the Water by M.J. Heywood is a thriller about an internet relationship gone awry. Lily Moore meets Bradley Jefferies in a chat room. She’s not seeking love, she’s seeking to swindle wealthy people out of their money. She’s got a system for finding heirs to fortunes. Brad, a wealthy American, might just be the one to stop her chain of thievery, as she considers love for the first time. Only Brad has sinister plans of his own. Unbeknownst to each other, they’re both laying a trap for the other. An entertaining and prescient thriller that combines elements of romance, crime, and technology.
This is a quintessentially modern story, yet it’s not oversaturated with modern technology: the novel manages to be both modern and classic in its telling of this web-based relationship. That comes down to the title as well, as “web” has a two-fold meaning, as Lily and Brad become ensnared in a web of deception. The gray cover suits the novel well – truth is murky in this novel. On the web, people can be more shadowy than they are in real life, which is at once recognizable and alarming. There is also a core tenderness to the novel about the bonds of friendship and love.
What moves the novel along is the strength of the characterization of Heywood’s two main characters. The novel does rely on description a bit too heavily at the expense of dialogue, but the colorful detail given to character and setting makes The Web Across the Water move at a brisk pace.