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A Master Class in Suspense

Kimberly Belle’s latest thriller My Darling Husband is full of nail-biting tension.

My Darling Husband is internationally best-selling author Kimberly Belle’s next thrilling novel. Following Stranger in the Lake, Belle explores the precarious livelihood of a family that seemingly has it all by having one horrific day lay bare their dirty secrets—the ones they keep from everpresent public eyes and the ones they keep from each other. As tensions rise under the threat of a home intruder who knows more than he should, will they break under the pressure? Will they lose their lives in the fallout?

Jade and Cam Lasky are a couple living the American Dream: a luxurious house, two young children, a booming chain of restaurants. With Cam as Atlanta’s famous “Steak King,” there’s no end to their wealthy, comfortable lifestyle in sight. Jade, a former designer and now a stay-at-home-mom, is content to leave the business to Cam in favor of throwing herself into raising their children. Her greatest concern is pushing their tempestuous violinist prodigy of a daughter, Beatrix, into reaching her full potential without neglecting their son.

Everything changes when a masked man with a gun appears in their house.

While Cam deals with the fallout of one of his restaurants burning down, Jade and their children are thrust into a life or death situation. A countdown begins for Cam to deliver a ransom or else his family will face the consequences of his actions. Despite the price for their lives being near a million dollars, Jade has faith that her husband will get the money in time.

Belle’s narrative is told through alternating point of view chapters of Jade, Cam and the intruder during the hostage situation. The story is framed by interspersed chapters written in a transcript style of a reporter interviewing Cam after everything has been (mostly) resolved. In weaving her plot this way, Belle avoids the story stalling in the one-location drama Jade goes through, and readers do not get lost in the mad scramble of information, backstabbing and money troubles that Cam experiences.

Belle’s writing is truly a master class in suspense. My Darling Husband never falters in ratcheting up the nail-biting tension of wondering what will happen next. Even in the stagnant setting of the house, Jade’s constant vigilance and terror at the intruder interacting with her children is enough to keep the momentum of the story going. For Cam’s money-hunt, every tidbit of new information contributes to tearing down the façade that he has built.

Without giving away too much about this gripping story, there is an interesting exploration within the novel about the privilege of wealth and the devastation of poverty. Similarities can be drawn between Cam and the intruder; both are driven by a deep-seated need to provide for their family. They both make decisions for their families that place them under financial strain instead of helping them. Cam keeps up appearances as a renowned chef and entrepreneur who built his legacy from the ground up with hard work. In reality, he’s not as rich as he let on, and his desperation to preserve his wealth is leading to his downfall. The intruder is backed into a corner, in a paralyzing amount of debt with no safety net because of Cam’s deceit. A false promise of achieving stability in wealth—by Cam and by the American system—leads to the central, deadly confrontation in the novel.

The only pitfall in this story is that there is one plot thread not as well-developed. Beatrix’s relationship to her prodigal violin skills and Jade’s tiger-mom tendencies are certainly mentioned at the beginning and readdressed, but they never felt like an integral part of the story. While Beatrix is a strong character, this part of her arc seems out of place next to the more intense themes within the novel.

My Darling Husband is one of our 2021-22 Fall/Winter Reads. Find the entire list here.

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