This book sits firmly in the psychological thriller genre, not only is this completely mind-blowing it is a fast-paced read too. Not that I expect anything less from this excellent author who I think is one of the best writers in this genre.
The book opens with a woman, later we discover, Louisa Williams, being chased in her car by her husband Sam. Worse still she isn’t alone in her white Fiat, her two young children are in the back. Louisa wakes up from the resulting coma in hospital, alone and to add insult to injury is told that she is ‘lucky.’ That’s not quite how Louisa sees it! Sam may have lost his life in the crash but Louisa has to live her life without her precious children.
It doesn’t take long, not long enough for the reader to have absorbed the shocking facts of the car crash, that we discover that Louisa’s battle is far from over. Not anywhere near recovered Louisa is visited in hospital:
“If you survive,” the voice says, “if you survive, I’m not going to let you get away with it. If you survive, you’d better watch out, Louisa.”
As Louisa gets stronger and faces the inquest into Sam’s death her name is prefixed with ‘Tragic’ in the media but Louisa is strong, and with the help of her lawyer, Fiona, she moves away from the home she shared with Sam and starts a new life in a new home in a new city with a new job with a new name, no longer Tragic Louisa!
Sam had a lover, Sophie and she doesn’t believe the inquest verdict. As far as she’s concerned the Sam she knew wouldn’t have driven Louisa off the road on purpose but Sophie has lied before, she has form and no-one wants to hear from the devoted mistress.
For a while we hear the outline of the run up to the crash and slowly it becomes clear that this isn’t the straightforward domestic violence storyline you are expecting. Oh no, imagine the darkest books you’ve read in this genre, and then go blacker still. Some of the clues are given by Louisa herself while other parts of the story are revealed by Sophie and somewhere in the middle, perhaps is where the truth lies? You will need to find out for yourselves though…
And that is all I’m going to say about the plot because like all these types of books, the least you know before opening the first page, the more enjoyment you’ll get from the resulting ride which isn’t unlike the opening scenes. One moment you’re travelling along a fairly well-known road, with a bullish husband, a meek wife and a dodgy affair, the next everything is turned on its head before you roll down the slope not knowing which way is up… or down.
What Julia Crouch does to keep the story anchored in reality it to insert scenes that are so familiar that we all have reference points, this is reality. After all many of us may not have been to an inquest, but most of us have started a new job. Some of us may even have started a new job and realised that we have chosen the wrong clothes, as Louisa did. Those of us who are parents may well have attended a mother and toddler group and faced the embarrassment of having the child that is at the ‘grabby stage’ and had to face down the poor subject’s hostile mother. These scenes are so spot on, written in a style that makes them more than just a footnote to the storyline, a means of bonding the reader with the character, the common ground that says ‘I know you’
The plotting is sublime, the use of the information to flesh out the story while at the same time keeping that tension maintained through what is a fairly long book is no less than an art form. All of this contributed to the feeling that although on one level unlikely, this really did happen and Louisa and Sophie exist along with the other incredibly life-like people that inhabit Her Husband’s Lover. This is a stupendous read one that deserves the real world to fade away and let you enjoy the scary journey.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Julia Crouch who sent me a copy of this book complete with a written card some time ago. It has taken a huge amount of willpower to leave it until closer to the publication date of 26 January 2017 to read and review, but the wait and anticipation was worth every minute.
Other Books by Julia Crouch