The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

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The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: To some, Fran's speedy marriage to Nathan – about whom nobody seemed to know anything – was a poorly thought-out plan. Pregnant and full of conviction about the turn that her life was taking for the better, Fran ignored the nay-sayers. She ignored her best friend's understandable alarm and rode off into the sunset – well, the Cambridgeshire Fens – with her man and their baby growing inside her. No-one said it wouldn't be hard work and the farmhouse that Nathan had bought for them to live in was certainly no palace, but Fran was sure she could make it work. Then she finds Nathan's bloodied corpse in ditch next to one of their fields and suddenly Fran has no idea what she has actually let herself in for.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: September 2016
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 978-0751562415

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When Fran met Nathan everyone assumed she was on the rebound from a lengthy stint at the mercy of Nick The Unsuitable. I imagine falling pregnant within those first few heady months may have added fuel to that particular fire particularly from where Fran's best friend is standing. But when this is followed by a hasty wedding and a move to an isolated farmhouse in the Fens, Fran feels sure that her new role as home-maker and mother, so very different from the London party-girl she used to be, is the right one for her. So when Fran wakes in the middle of the night to find Nathan's side of the bed completely cold, she goes to look for him. Finding him bloodied and very much dead was most definitely not part of the bargain.

The police quickly arrive and though Fran is numb with shock and the sleep deprivation of a mother to both a pre-schooler and a newborn baby, she can sense that the detectives are suspicious of her. Stunned and reeling, Fran does what she can to help the police with their enquiries, but she soon realises that she actually knows very little about Nathan, his friends and where he goes when he is working or socialising. The children have kept Fran so busy and exhausted, it never crossed her mind that Nathan could have been keeping secrets from her.

Christobel Kent is a very well respected writer; her Sandro Cellini novels are revered and adored the world over, so it was very difficult for me to admit that I just didn't enjoy this book. It's actually hard to put my finger on what I didn't like, particularly as this tale was a Richard and Judy Book Club story and the majority of reviews – at least at first glance – raved about it. Now, just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean that I am right and everyone else is wrong. It is superbly written; the narrative conveys the bleakness of the location, Fran's agonising solitude, the depth of her confusion (at being married to someone and realising that she does not have the faintest idea who they are) and her desperation not to be on the suspect list. Kent draws you into her character's exhaustion and makes you rage against the misogynistic police detectives and pray for Fran to discover a simple explanation for this horrible mess that she finds herself in. So, truly, it's all the things that the rave reviews suggest, however, it is also some other things too.

It is tedious in parts and I found Kent to be creating a hopscotch of a plot that forced you to repeatedly pick your stone up and turn round and go back the way you came, dragging out the story rather than laying a pathway of stepping stones for you to follow. If there was one reference to the pile of dishes in Fran's apparently filthy kitchen, there were twenty. I felt like that overlying lesson in all this is that if Fran had kept the dishwasher going she might not have a dead husband! Also, the randomly plucked and disjointed references to Nathan's teenage friends who now found themselves in varying circumstances, from homeless to successful, the former of which forms the basis of Fran's list of suspects.

Look, it's probably just me – and some other people too that I probably found online after some determined hunting so that I didn't feel like the odd one out for not loving this book – so I'm still giving it four stars. It really is beautifully written and the picture painted is certainly an effective one.

If you like the sound of The Loving Husband, I would mention again Kent's prior works, which are predominantly the Sandro Cellini detective novels, which we at Bookbag adore. Take a look at Christobel Kent's Sandro Cellini Mysteries in Chronological Order and start at the beginning!

If Italian detective novels are the way you like to wind down, then we would also like to recommend Angelica's Smile by Andrea Camilleri because it matters not which Inspector Montalbano novel you pick up; each is excellent and a story in its own right (but if you're picky, Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano Books in Chronological Order).

Once again, we at Bookbag would like to thank the publisher for sending this copy to us for review.

Buy The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent at

Buy The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent at


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Sandrine Rey said:

We are a group of five in a book club and we didn't enjoy it. There was no fluidity in the novel and going back and forth didn't make sense most of the time. It was boring and I skipped some parts. The ideas were good but I don't think any were fully developed. Also half of us think Rob killed Nathan and the other half think it was Karen! The half of us that think it was rob think rob was obsessed with the wife. The half that thinks it was Karen thinks rob was gay and raped the wife to be closer to Nathan. I mean that's not normal -shouldn't it be clear?!! None of us wants to read it again-do you know? I might give her other series a try as you recommend it but I find it hard to believe that such a badly written and thought through book could have an author that wrote something so good?

So in short you are not alone. This was not a good or enjoyable read.