Richard and Judy Review: The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

Richard and Judy Review: The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

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"While it is increasingly clear that Nathan was secretive and controlling, we gradually realise that Fran too is being evasive and obstructive. Just what is going on?"

Richard’s review

Poor Fran! Not only is her husband dead in a ditch, it quickly transpires that the local police have profound suspicions about her. In fact these boys in blue are a rather unpleasant bunch; hostile and cynical, and they give the grieving widow a pretty hard time. But maybe they’re right to. The wonderful thing about this novel is that the author keeps you second-guessing in almost every chapter. We lurch from red herring to red herring… but are they false leads? Kent deftly mixes bogus clues with genuine ones and it’s a hugely exciting rollercoaster ride.

The police aren’t the only ones to be suspicious. Fran herself gradually starts to wonder if she ever really knew her husband at all. Was her marriage one great big sham? Was Nathan the loving husband that she trusted him to be? Or was he hiding a huge, dark secret?

Meanwhile it becomes obvious in Kent’s deft storytelling that Fran herself is hiding something. While it is increasingly clear that Nathan was secretive and controlling, we gradually realise that Fran too is being evasive and obstructive. Just what is going on?

The Loving Husband is tightly written and tightly paced. Indeed the story’s timeline only covers a week following Nathan’s death but Kent takes us deep into the psychology of her characters and that makes time seems to stand breathlessly still.

Tense, rigid with suspense, this is a fine thriller and a great read.

"They’re in the middle of nowhere with a toddler and a baby. It’s a challenge. And now this."

Judy’s review

‘There was something in the ditch. In one sweep of the car’s headlights she took in a shoe. Then the length of him, head down, and she dropped to her knees. He was in the ditch.’

The ‘he’ in Christobel Kent’s gripping thriller is Nathan. The ‘she’ is his new-ish wife, Fran. And Nathan is not only in the ditch – he is very, very dead.

Fran and Nathan have moved to a brooding farmhouse on the edge of the Fens. For her, it’s a big deal. She had a great job and a thriving social life back in London: this is a seismic change for her. They’re in the middle of nowhere with a toddler and a baby. It’s a challenge. And now this.

As the book opens we find Fran sleeping alone in the marital bed. Sex with Nathan has been pretty much non-existent for as long as she can remember. But now, in the small hours, she hears him come into the room and then feels him slide between the sheets next to her. Moments later he is putting his hands on her and to her astonishment, they are making love.

Sometime later Fran wakes suddenly; her baby is crying. But as she starts to get up and checks the time on the bedside clock – it is gone two in the morning – she realises she is alone. The duvet beside her is flat and smooth; ‘as tidily straight against the pillow as a hotel bed. Empty.’

Nathan is gone.

Forever.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for The Loving Husband

"Firmly in the currently fashionable “domestic noir” genre, but this is no catchpenny trend-chasing; Kent effortlessly rises above other entries in the field . . . the familiar is confronted and inverted and Kent’s ace in the hole is her keen penetration of the characters’ psychology, particularly that of beleaguered heroine Fran"

Barry Forshaw for Financial Times

"Kent is an extremely fine writer and makes terrific use in particular of the Fens’ waterlogged, empty landscape in which secrets can be easily buried if never quite forgotten . . . Terrifyingly good."

Metro

"Unsettling domestic thriller . . . Spooky and skilfully written, this is one to race through"

Sunday Mirror