The Serial Killer’s Wife is a new mystery thriller series on Paramount+, which is an onscreen adaptation of Alice Hunter’s 2021 novel by the same name. As the very title suggests, the plot is centered around a woman named Beth Fairchild, whose life takes unexpected twists and turns when her husband, Tom, is arrested by the police as a prime suspect in a gruesome murder. Telling the story in four episodes, The Serial Killer’s Wife is quite thrilling till its end, and even though some events seem too convenient for the plot, it makes for an overall entertaining watch.
Plot Summary: What is The Series about?
Set in a small but wealthy village community in England, The Serial Killer’s Wife begins with the very protagonist, Beth Fairchild, hosting a special party at her house. The lavish and extravagant house is full of friends and neighbors from the community, all of whom have to go full silent for a moment, as they are all here for a surprise party. Beth’s husband, Tom, has turned forty, and the party is to celebrate this very occasion. Tom is a doctor by profession, and his work, as well as the stature of his family, have made him quite a reputable and honored figure in the community. He is well known to everyone in the village and at the party, as the man has grown up and lived at the very place all his life. Beth, though, is an outsider in comparison, for she had moved to the village six years ago, after her marriage with Tom.
The evening starts off in a splendid manner, as Tom enjoys the attention from all around that he is getting and also the occasional praise that Beth receives for being a caring wife and a friendly neighbor. Beth runs a café that Tom inherited from his mother, and she does this more out of passion and interest than any serious profession. The couple also has a young daughter, Poppy, and the family is almost always accompanied by Tom’s childhood best friend, Adam Plummer. Along with being their close friend and a neighbor, Adam and his young child, Jess, are given extra attention by Beth and Tom for a particular reason. Adam’s wife, Marnie, had tragically passed away about a year ago, and the man has still not been able to get over this loss.
While the joyous birthday party has been going on, the police detectives of the local department are busy finding clues with regards to the murder of a young woman named Katy Asquith. Incidentally, Katy had been an employee at the very hospital where Tom works, and the man had even fired her some time ago on the basis of professional inadequacy. While this in itself suggested a connection and possible animosity between the two, the police find a more incriminating clue when a ring with Tom’s initials is discovered on the victim’s body. While the birthday party is still ongoing, the police barge into the couple’s house and arrest Dr. Tom Fairchild on suspicion of murder.
Who is Ollie Turner?
While Tom is kept in custody, his house is searched thoroughly by the police, but they seemingly miss out on a number of clues. These are actually picked up by Beth, who is absolutely shocked at this sudden arrest of her husband, for she never believed him to be capable of any crime, let alone a murder. Beth gradually finds a hidden USB stick and some letters and messages on his phone to learn that Tom was actually being sued by Katy Asquith, who claimed that there was no valid reason behind her firing. Beth also finds a hidden phone used by Tom, to learn that her husband has been cheating on her with multiple women over the years. However, the police find no incriminating evidence against Tom, as the ring is not enough, and Beth claims during her questioning that he had lost the ring a few months earlier. She also lies about her husband’s whereabouts on the night of the murder, saying that she was certain about him being with the family throughout the night and, therefore, providing an alibi for him.
Although it seems a bit strange for the woman to lie to the police, Beth has no option but to do so since it is her husband who supported her life, and she had no profession or wealth of her own. Moreover, she also genuinely loves Tom and would do anything to get him out of danger. Beth’s false claims to the police take place before she finds out about her husband’s infidelity, but even if it had been earlier, she would have perhaps still sided with him. Instead, Beth tries to find some more clues about the murder, and she finds one in a pair of earrings that a young woman named Libby has been wearing. Libby happens to be the baker and part-time server at Beth’s café, and the girl is about to get married to her fiancé, Ollie Turner, soon.
The earrings that Libby claims to have been an expensive gift from Ollie are actually ones belonging to the dead Katy Asquith, which is evident to Beth from Katy’s photograph in the newspaper. Therefore, this connects Ollie to the crime scene, and when the man is confronted, he immediately tries to escape. As the police are informed about this, Ollie’s house is investigated, where hard drugs of various kinds are found. Ollie had lost his job a few weeks ago and had started to lose his way in life, using drugs to temporarily forget his struggles. He had even told Libby that the death of Katy had affected him a lot, since the two used to be classmates in school. However, there is a different reason behind the man being disturbed after Katy’s murder, and this is revealed in some time.
Although he had been at the crime scene before the discovery of the murder, Ollie Turner had not actually killed Katy but was the first to find her body. The man, desperate for money and also under the influence of drugs, decided to steal from the corpse, taking away her purse and other belongings. He did not naturally inform the police about the body since his fingerprints would also be found. Ollie had taken away whatever money and jewelry he found and then burned every other piece of clothing and bag to get rid of evidence. Realizing that the pair of earrings were expensive, he gifted them to his fiancée as a pre-wedding surprise.
When the police start looking for Ollie, the man goes missing while his mental state deteriorates. He returns during Jess’ birthday party and threatens Beth, as he considers her the reason for Libby calling off the wedding. Tom also makes all efforts to get Ollie arrested since his name would be cleared in that case. However, by the time the police get to the scene, Ollie takes Beth hostage, making the authorities have to tase the man. Right before this attack, Ollie privately claims to Beth that he saw Tom at the crime scene, making her even more confused. However, the tase attack makes Ollie fall hard on a metal structure, hitting his head and dying from the impact. Despite being a suspect, Ollie Turner dies before he can reveal that he was not the murderer. The police authorities make use of the chance, though, and end the case by claiming that the serial killer had died, much to the frustration of Detective Inspector Aline Edgeworth.
What more shocking truths about Tom are revealed?
Even though her superior tells her to stop the investigation, DI Aline keeps looking into the matter, as she is not convinced that Ollie Turner was the murderer simply because there was no solid motive for him. On the other hand, Tom Fairchild looked more and more suspicious when new details about him were revealed. The police find a link with a murder that took place around six years ago, in which a young woman named Phoebe Alderton had been killed, without any correct perpetrator found. As soon as news of Tom’s arrest as a suspect spread, Phoebe’s father called the police to inform them that the woman had been in a relationship with Tom at the time of her death.
When the authorities look back at the old case and go through Phoebe’s personal belongings, a card from an underground secret music club named The Vault is found. Although Aline is not aware of it, a similar card had been among Tom’s things in his study as well. As is later cleared, The Vault was a very hushed-up and exclusive sex club that held parties once a month where members participated in sexual fantasies. In fact, Tom and Beth had met each other at this very club, and Phoebe Alderton was also a friend of theirs. Phoebe was often a part of the couple’s intimate moments, but when she stopped coming after some time, Beth presumed that she had lost interest, without realizing that the woman had actually died.
Even though Tom had probably stopped visiting the club parties, his physical fantasies had not died down, and so he indulged in many physical affairs after his marriage. Beth had decided to stay by him even after knowing all of this, but her patience and love could only tolerate the matter to a limit. The phone that she had found, with the intimate videos and chats of her husband with other women on it, had been accidentally damaged. She had given it to Adam to get the phone fixed, and when she finally went through all the content, Beth found an immensely shocking video. Adam’s deceased wife, Marnie, is seen crawling in the video, visibly dying from some sickness, while the person shooting the video just waits around for her to die. Beth is immediately confident that it is Tom who killed his best friend’s wife, or had, at least, done nothing to stop her from dying.
The protagonist informs Adam about this, and the two decide to do something to stop Tom from hurting more people. But by now, the police had already found some more evidence against the doctor. The unsolved murder of another woman named Ella led the authorities to a house where Tom stayed during his younger days as a practicing doctor, and the remains of the woman’s body were found buried inside the same compound. This was substantial proof to detain Tom once again, but as the police started looking for him, Adam and Beth tried chasing him down to confront him. As a result of the high-speed chase, Tom’s car loses balance and falls into the sea, while he manages to escape from the scene.
Who was the real serial killer?
A year passes since Tom Fairchild has been missing, and Beth’s life has changed a lot as she is about to marry her estranged husband’s best friend, Adam Plummer. However, right before this marriage, she learns from a neighbor about a very scandalous secret. While Beth had suspected that Tom might have had an affair with Marnie, she had no idea that Jess, who was believed to be the daughter of Adam, was actually the biological child of Tom. Beth still does not react to this information, and she does not say anything to Adam either.
But Tom now makes an appearance secretly and informs Beth that the video she had seen of Marnie dying had been put onto his phone a few days after he had been arrested by the police the first time. Incidentally, Beth had given the phone to Adam during this time, as it needed to be fixed. It is now that the whole truth is made clear, for Adam Plummer was the real serial killer.
Adam had found out about his wife’s affair with his best friend and had immediately gotten a DNA test done on Jess. The result confirmed his doubts, for he had no biological link with the girl, and Adam could no longer control his anger. When Marnie suffered a severe allergic reaction, Adam confronted her and refused to give her the prescribed EpiPen, which ultimately led to her death. Thus, it was Adam himself who had caused his wife’s death. As he wanted to pin all the blame on Tom, who had messed up his life so terribly, the man then put the video on Tom’s phone, knowing well that Beth would go through it.
Along with finding the real video footage on Adam’s laptop, Beth also finds photographs of the dead bodies of the murdered women, neatly kept among the personal belongings of her husband-to-be. She also finds a few photos of Adam and Tom together, kept among these things, as they had been the best of friends. Although not directly mentioned, it might be that the earlier murders were committed by Tom and Adam together. But The Serial Killer’s Wife perhaps suggests more towards the possibility that Adam is a psychopathic serial killer who murdered the women without any strong motive. Beth still does not react and gets married to Adam, thus literally becoming the wife of the real serial killer.
Why does Beth not reveal her findings to the police?
Despite Beth having learned the entire truth, she does not inform the police about any of it. Although it seems like she will team up with Tom in the final moment, her message asking him to meet at a particular spot turns out to be an act of betrayal. Beth informs the police about this spot, and the authorities reach the place to arrest the fugitive man. Even when she meets Tom in custody at the very end of The Serial Killer’s Wife, Beth makes it clear that she is not going to help him out of the situation ever. She reveals that all the evidence proving Adam to have been the serial killer has been destroyed by her, and so Tom would forever be in prison as the guilty murderer.
The reason for such a decision by Beth is that she does not want to forgive him for the infidelity and the emotional torture and manipulation that he has made her go through. After all, Tom Fairchild was a terrible man, despite not having committed the murders, and Beth now lets him be punished for it. But on the other side, she also cannot let Adam exist happily after knowing that he has killed so many young women. Beth decides not to involve the law in the matter but instead to punish him herself. While the couple are out on a romantic walk, Beth reveals that she knows about her husband’s murders, and she immediately pushes Adam off the cliff. The man falls to death on the very beach, where he leaves behind a number of his victims’ bodies.
During The Serial Killer’s Wife‘s ending, Beth finally decides that she will raise Poppy and Jess by herself, for neither of the two men in her life were worth keeping. It is also possible that she has a feeling, from Tom and Adam’s photos together, that the two have committed many of the murders together. If we are to accept Ollie Turner’s final claim that he had seen Tom at the beach on the night of Katy’s murder, then it is possible that Tom had gone to the place to help Adam get rid of the evidence. In the end, Beth very calmly calls up the police to inform them that Adam is missing, since nobody knows of his death yet. A brief mid-credits scene is also present in The Serial Killer’s Wife, in which Jules meets with Tom in prison and informs him that she has read through his files, finding some loophole to get the man out of jail. Jules was the ex-wife of Maxwell, who had been Tom’s lawyer, and so what information the woman has and whether Tom could fight for freedom would be dealt with in a possible second season.