My Darling Husband is a taut, fast-paced domestic thriller. Start reading it on a weekend, because once you start, it’s hard to put down. The story begins with one of anyone’s worst nightmares: Jade Lasky comes home with her two young kids to find a masked man with a gun. Her husband Cam has only hours to pull together the oddly specific sum of $734,296, or Jade and the kids are dead.
The problem is that Cam has nowhere near that amount of money. A successful chef and owner of high-end steak restaurants, Cam is heavily in debt to his investors, and the day of the hostage-taking, his most successful restaurant has just gone up in flames. The novel alternates between Jade and Cam’s perspectives, and occasionally the masked man’s, whose name is Sebastian. And the result is a tightly woven plot, as Jade and her kids fight to survive, and Cam pulls on all available strings to raise the cash.
Surprisingly, the star of the show turns out to be nine-year-old Beatrix, who is an even bigger thorn in Sebastian’s side than Jade is. I’m not often a fan of overly precocious kids, but even I had to admire Beatrix’s cleverness. Watching her and Jade work together to try to outwit Sebastian and protect the younger, more naive, Baxter, was a pure delight.
Interspersed throughout the novel are snippets of an interview Cam gives after the incident, which helps fill in some of the blanks, for the reader if not for Jade. We learn that he’s had some shady business dealings, and been involved with illegal activities, all in pursuit of his ambition. We also learn his own family history, and how his father’s choices have shaped the person he is today. The book blurb makes a big deal of this aspect of the plot, promising family secrets and public scandals, and to me, the book itself never quite lived up to that promise.
The truth behind Cam’s actions and the links to the motives behind Sebastian’s actions, turns out to be much more prosaic that the blurb suggests, and I actually think the book is better for it. Rather than a dramatic, big gasp reveal, we get a rather ordinary story, and two complex and flawed men. Their decisions may be questionable, and at times, downright wrong, but their motives are somewhat understandable, and ultimately human. This isn’t to say that they’re wholly sympathetic — Sebastian’s hostage taking is undeniably wrong, and some of the things Cam does is downright callous. But the author has created some interesting character studies that unfold as she keeps us on the edge of our seat watching all the thriller aspects play out.
Overall, this is an exciting, fast-paced read, and a lot of fun for a weekend.
Thank you to Park Row Books for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.