Kill Your Husbands by Jack Heath

Reviewed by Rod McLary

Jack Heath is the author of the Hangman series of crime thrillers featuring Timothy Blake – a protagonist with a very unusual secret which is progressively disclosed through the four books.  Each of these books is a tense and exciting thriller.  Now the author has begun a new series with each of the two titles so far beginning with Kill Your …  The first of the series Kill Your Brother was shortlisted for the best crime novel at the 2021 Ned Kelly Awards; and Kill Your Husbands follows on with Elise Glyk and Constable Kiara Lui – both of whom featured in the previous novel – as the  key players in this book.

The story centres on three couples who were friends at high school and who have remained in the small town of Warrigal [not to be confused with the real town of Warragul in Victoria].  The couples decide to rent a luxurious house in the mountains for a tech-free weekend of drinking and eating. The couples – Cole and Clementine, Oscar and Isla, and Dom and Felicity – are enticed [or perhaps seduced is a better word] into some wife-swapping but with explicit rules.  Needless to say, the plan does not end well.  One of the six is found dead.

There is no mobile phone signal, the landline isn’t working, and no one can find the car keys.  A scenario is now established in which trust is a commodity in short supply as various secrets between the couples gradually come to light.

In a secondary storyline, Elise and Kiara – who are a couple – are experiencing some relational problems.  Kiara believes that a weekend away may help resolve those problems and she chooses the house in which the first death occurs.  But Kiara is the investigating officer for the murder and consequently everything begins to get rather complicated.  The author however balances the storylines brilliantly and with more than enough tension to keep the reader up to all night to finish the book.

The structure of the novel is such that the various narratives are each set out clearly and cohesively.  Within the overall structure, there are three  timelines – ‘One Month Later’, ‘Last Friday’, ‘Now’ – and within those timelines are various chapters each headed by the name of the character on whom the focus turns.  Then to wrap it all up, there is the ‘Epilogue’.

Jack Heath – as he has done in the Hangman series and more recently with Kill Your Brother – has crafted a psychologically thrilling read with sufficient twists and turns to baffle even the most ardent crime novel reader.  The continuing characters of Kaira and Elise provide a domestic secondary storyline which has its own twists – much as most relationships have.

This is a crime novel well worth the reading.  Excellent.

Kill Your Husbands

[2023]

by Jack Heath

Allen and Unwin

ISBN 978 176106758 7

$32.99; 372pp

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