Sunday 19 November 2017

Thriller: The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

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The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent
The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

Eilis O'Hanlon

Fran's husband comes home shortly after midnight and slips into bed; half-sleeping, she lets him make love to her. A couple of hours later, she wakes again, but Nathan isn't there. Downstairs, Fran finds the door unbolted and unlocked. Venturing out into the yard of their remote house in the English countryside, she finds his body lying face down in a ditch.

Nathan has been killed with a knife from their own kitchen. More troublingly for Fran, he was dead long before a man climbed into her bed at midnight. The police suspect her of having killed him. They want to know more about the couple's relationship, but Fran starts to wonder how much of that she understands herself.

Who was Nathan really? Why did he marry her? Why did he move them and their two young children out to this bleak spot in the Norfolk Fens where "the grey sky seemed to flatten everything"?

She'd only known her husband for five years - meeting him shortly after splitting up with a previous boyfriend, Nick, who himself might not have been entirely law-abiding. Nor was Nathan the only one with secrets. Fran has some of her own, and sharing them with the police would only make them suspect her more.

Christobel Kent is the author of the Sandro Cellini crime fiction series about a private detective in Italy. Alongside those, she writes standalone books in the increasingly ubiquitous "domestic noir" genre, of which this is the latest.

It has its longeurs, with the story struggling at times to fill its 406 pages, but The Loving Husband is a solid read with a disturbing atmosphere of menace. It asks that eternal question - how well do you really know the people that you love? The answer for mystery writers is always the same - not nearly as well as you think.

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