The Husband (Dean Koontz)

Mitch Rafferty has just sixty hours to save his wife.
What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill?

09Book Review

“She can put her life in Mitch’s strong hands and fall at once into a dreamless sleep. In a sense, that is what marriage is about-a good marriage-a total trusting with your heart, your mind, your life.”

Before we get started I have to confess that I am a bit of a Dean Koontz die hard. He has around 50 novels currently in print and I’ve read them all. As far as I’m concerned none of them are bad – just different levels of greatness! “The Husband” falls somewhere in the middle.

It must be tempting for writers such as Dean Koontz to rest on their laurels. After all, they’ve achieved more bestseller placings than most writers could shake a stick at, and acquired as dedicated following as their accountants could wish. But The Husband shows that Koontz still has several tricks up his sleeve, and that he can still do plotting more ingeniously than most of his contemporaries.

Mitchell Rafferty is a landscape gardener–not a rich man–who receives a phone call that he initially thinks is some kind of a hoax: he is told that for two million in cash, he can get his wife back from the people who have abducted her. But he is quickly given an object lesson in the seriousness of the people he is dealing with–while on the phone, trying to take in what he’s been told, it’s suggested to him that he looks at a man across the street. A rifle shot rings out, and the man falls, shot in the head. The terror and desperation that Rafferty feels are compounded by one simple fact: he has absolutely no way of acquiring such a massive sum. But his caller doesn’t seem to be interested in such niceties–if Mitchell loves his wife enough, he’ll find a way. And he has exactly 60 hours in which to do it.

With a premise like this, any halfway decent writer would be able to ratchet up the tension to ensure that the reader is comprehensively gripped. But Koontz isn’t just interested in the execution of a precision-tooled plot (although, God knows, he’s an old hand at handling such things). What we get along with the cleverly orchestrated tension is a series of killer twists–the kind that Koontz has always been adept at. It goes without saying that a setup such as this allows little room for nuances of characterisation, but that’s never been Koontz’s métier in any case. However, if you’re looking for a thriller that is the purest escapism, look no further.

“Love scrubs the worst stains clean. Anyway, there can be no retreat in the face of evil, only resistance. And commitment.”

Overall a strong Dean Koontz thriller. 9/10.


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