Book review: Kill Your Husbands by Jack Heath

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 Permalink

Kill Your Husbands by Jack Heath is very cleverly written because in the present the police are interviewing the survivors politely, using their title and surname, but in the past (well, very recent past… last weekend) they all use first names. So for a long time we don’t know who’s dead and who’s not.

Weirdly it didn’t occur to me until I started the book that it was a follow-up to Kill Your Brother, which I enjoyed when it was released in 2021. It’s not exactly a sequel as such, rather it features two of the same characters, cop (here recently promoted to detective) Kiara Lui and her girlfriend Elise (held capture in the first book). Their relationship is on rocky ground here, well so thinks Kiara as Elise is acting strangely and keeping secrets from her.

Book review: Kill Your Husbands by Jack HeathKill your Husbands
by Jack Heath
Published by Allen & Unwin
on 28/11/2023
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 9781761067587
Pages: 384

Three couples, friends since the university athletics team, travel to a house in the mountains for an unplugged weekend of drinking and bushwalking. No internet, no phones, no stress. On the first night, the topic of partner-swapping comes up. It's a joke - at first not everyone is keen, but an agreement is made. The lights will be turned out. The three men will go into the three bedrooms. The three women will each pick a bedroom at random. It won't be awkward later, because no one will know for sure who they've slept with - though each guest is privately sure that they alone will be able to tell.

But when the lights come back on, someone is missing. A search of the house and the surrounding bushland turns up a body.

Five people remain. They have no way of contacting the police. Nor can they leave - the keys to the cars are missing. And the killer is just getting started.

Two weeks later, Senior Constable Kiara Lui drives to the house with her girlfriend, Elise. She's already interviewed the survivors. Now, she must work out which of them is lying, and why ...

There’s an excellent combination of dark humour and irony on offer here. And I guess it’s to be expected of Heath whose series featuring a cannibalistic protagonist I very much enjoy.

This offers a fascinating study of human nature. How friends once so similar, can now be so different. Or perhaps they always were? And it’s a confronting reminder how fickle we can be. How easily swayed. Suddenly distrusting someone we’ve always trusted. And one character has convinced himself that he’s madly in love with someone, and then very suddenly he’s like… “Whaaa? What was I thinking?” The idea now seems ridiculous but – until recently – it also seemed so very real.

It’s easy to judge such characters, but at the same time, there’s a sense of familiarity, of realism because we’ve sometimes experienced that. That bizarre element of human nature where we become certain of something… and later can’t recall how or why we were so fascinated (like me with Australian Idol in its first year, or Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III. It’s like being woken from a trance and wondering…. “WTF?”)

It’d also be easy to dismiss a lot of these characters as unlikeable. And, in all honesty it IS tempting. There are probably a couple we get to know less than the others, though we switch narrators throughout. The weekend away has come at a pivotal time for several of the cast and there’s a lot going on with each individual and couple.

I read this in an unplanned sitting. Heath’s sense of humour is on show in spades, including in the way bodies are found. The pacing is great and Heath is able to imbue that real sense of expectation – what will happen next? Is this about good and evil? Bad luck and misfortune? Or a combination of both. Possibly also a reminder about the importance of honesty in a relationship. And that lesson is relevant for ALL of the characters here.

I’m enjoying this series. I didn’t feel as I had as good a connection with Elise in this outing but perhaps that’s because she IS hiding something from Kiara and holding back. I wonder what will be next… Kill Your Sisters? Maybe Kill Your Colleagues! (Ahem…..)

Kill Your Husbands by Jack Heath was be published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and I loved that the early copy I received came with a little bottle of pills. Should I have needed to do away with my husband. If I had one. Instead I indulged and the jelly beans were delicious.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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