Title: The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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“Be careful, Fran,” the man said quietly. “About what you think you know.”
In a dilapidated farmhouse out in the vast waterlogged plains of the English Fenlands, Fran awakes groggily to her baby’s cries one February night and finds the bed empty beside her. Her husband, Nathan, is gone.
Moving uneasily through the drafty rooms, searching for her husband, Fran soon makes a devastating discovery that upends her marriage and any semblance of safety. As she tries desperately to make sense of what happened to Nathan, Fran is forced to delve dangerously into the undercurrents of his claustrophobic hometown and question how well she knew him in the first place. Fran, increasingly isolated, grows paranoid—but Nathan isn’t the only one hiding something. Though she can’t tell a soul, Fran is shielding a damning secret of her own: a hazy, dreamlike memory from the night of Nathan’s disappearance that might be the key to it all.
From the bestselling author of The Crooked House comes an utterly gripping psychological thriller spanning the traditions of Daphne du Maurier and S. J. Watson. Christobel Kent’s The Loving Husband is spooky and skillfully written, dragging readers deep into the unsettling world of the Fens and into a marriage of half-truths and past lives, where no one can be trusted—especially not your spouse.
The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent is a suspenseful murder mystery set in a rural village in Great Britain.
Fran Hall lives with her husband Nathan and their two young children, four year old Emme and 3 month old Ben on a rundown farm close to where Nathan grew up. Since their move from London, Fran has become increasingly isolated as Nathan controls just about every aspect of their life. Awakening to discover Nathan missing from their bed, she makes a horrifying discovery when she finds his lifeless body in a ditch on their property. The investigators assigned to her case, DS Doug Gerard and DC Ed Carswell, are convinced Fran knows more than she is telling but does this mean she is a killer?
Fran was never overly thrilled with the move from London, but it seems like the best way to put her mistakes behind her. The farmhouse is isolated and somewhat dilapidated, but she is trying to make the best of the situation for her family’s sake. While Nathan has a thriving business that takes him away from home quite frequently and an active social life, Fran’s days revolve around her children and keeping the peace with her husband. It is not until Nathan is murdered that the inconsistencies in his life become more apparent and Fran is somewhat surprised to discover she does not much at all about the man she has shared her life with more than five years.
While DS Gerard and DS Carswell are initially solicitous when dealing with Fran, it does not take long for her to realize they are not on her side. She is not exactly forthcoming with all of the details of the night Nathan was murdered but under the circumstances, her hesitance is understandable. The only person involved in the investigation that she feels comfortable with is Family Liaison Officer DC Ali Compton. However, Fran is unsure she can completely trust Ali so she continues to maintain her silence about some of the events that occurred the night of Nathan’s murder.
Fran is horribly confused about the information that is uncovered during the investigation . As she reflects back on her relationship with Nathan, she begins to realize how isolated she has become. She also starts to recognize how much of herself she has given up over the years in order to keep Nathan happy. Fran is dismayed by her inability to answer basic questions about her husband’s business dealings or who he socializes with in his downtime. With every new clue that emerges, she cannot help but wonder about Nathan’s motivation for marrying her but the reason for his actions eludes Fran.
The Loving Husband is a suspense-laden domestic mystery that moves at a moderately fast pace. Christobel Kent cleverly keeps the killer’s identity and motive for the crime a closely guarded secret with brilliantly plotted twists and turns and a few well-paced red herrings. The novel comes to quite a stunning conclusion that is virtually impossible to predict. An absolutely riveting mystery that fans of the genre do not want to miss.