Suspense Review: Her Husband’s Grave

This was an ARC from NetGalley.

Her Husband’s Grave, by P. L. Kane

Robyn Adams is a psychologist who works with police departments to track down serial killers. She’s just finished one such case (and almost gotten herself killed in the process) when she receives a call from her cousin Vicky, whose husband Simon has been found murdered and buried at the beach in the small town of Golden Sands.

For me, Kane’s thriller missed its mark, although it has some really interesting parts that could have been developed into a very compelling story. Part of the problem was that none of the main characters felt like people I could root for. Robyn basically crashes an ongoing investigation, in a town where she has no professional connections, and makes an enemy of the DI in charge of the case, repeatedly putting herself in danger in the process. She continually looks down on the town and its inhabitants (her descriptions of an old librarian and a hotel bartender are particularly appalling), and spends the entire novel popping painkillers and then getting behind the wheel to jet off to her next point of interest. Her cousin Vicky, who is (understandably) not coping well with Simon’s death, pinballs from one mood to the next, alternately feeling grateful for Robyn’s presence or hating her for past wrongs. Flawed characters can be very intriguing, especially when they’re in positions of authority the way Robyn is, but she was never given enough time to evolve; she simply barrelled through the plot, surviving the various mishaps out of sheer luck, and thanks to DS Watts, who was one of the few likable characters.

The mystery aspect itself had enough twists and red herrings to keep my interest, although the resolution felt like a bit of a letdown. There were some loose ends that I would have liked to have seen more of, because they could have added a great angle to the plot: the medium, for one, who we are led to believe might have an actual connection to the departed; the possible hallucinatory effects that painkillers might be having on Robyn; or the general creepy atmosphere that Kane injects into the town (bad phone reception, an old asylum, a rundown funfair…). At times, the author seems to want to push for this supernatural angle, but backs away and leaves these elements hanging.

In general, though, Her Husband’s Grave is not a bad choice for an entertaining summer read. Some tightening up of the plot and better characterization would make for a much more compelling story, and the ambiguous ending seems to hint at more to come, but it’s still a fun whodunit.

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