A Routine Infidelity book review

Catching cheating husbands is a viable business idea. There’s certainly no shortage of extramarital relations in inner-city Melbourne, as Edwina “Ted” Bristol discovers in Elizabeth Coleman’s. A Routine Infidelity.

After returning home from years of driving Ubers in Berlin, Ted has decided to open up her own private investigation firm, called Edwina Bristol Investigations (EBI), where her clients range from warring neighbors to tyrannical and controlling bosses.

The bulk of her cases come from middle-aged women who suspect their husbands of cheating. On her business Facebook page, a typical post will include articles such as, “10 Signs Your Spouse is Cheating”.

Elizabeth Coleman’s A Routine Infidelity has high drama, snappy dialogue and sensational plot twists.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Picture your run-of-the-mill mid-century career man who calls his wife “darling”, buys her flowers on Valentine’s Day, though isn’t really interested in the grueling symptoms she’s experiencing from perimenopause.

This man has enough time to tell his wife lies about where he is every Thursday night, though, as Ted’s client and office-neighbour, Chantel discovers. Japanese cooking lessons?

Sorry, Chantel. Your husband’s more interested in his teacher than the food they’re supposedly making. Chantel is one of many clients “betrayed by shitheads”, and “Ted considered those shitheads her prey”.

Another client, Amber, asks Ted to surveil her husband whom she suspects is having an affair with his co-worker. She discovers that he is actually trying to steal millions from the company, and engaging his lover to assist him.

Ted’s job isn’t painless, but it’s eased by the aid of her trusty companion Miss Marple, who happens to be a miniature schnauzer.

She has the kind of relationship Richard Moser has with his German Shepherd, Inspector Rex, or Tintin with his white wire fox terrier, Snowy. Coleman revels in the archetypal anti-heroine of the mid-naughties romcom. Ted is a woman who prefers to be single, doesn’t own plants “because of her phobia about settling down”, plays Swordcraft on the weekend for fun, and thinks Chantel’s job as a spiritual medium is a load of dog excrement. (Think Sandra Bullock in Miss Congenialityor Two Weeks Noticeor The Heat or any other character she plays, really.)

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