Kill Your Husbands, Jack Heath

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Bit of background to commence - KILL YOUR HUSBANDS is billed as a follow up to KILL YOUR BROTHER, which I've not read / listened to yet. None of which seemed to matter a jot, although I understand there is some character crossover it's definitely didn't feel like I should have read these in order. It's probably also worth mentioning (because my partner did enquire when I was sniggering away at something in it), it's not a manual or how to.

Instead KILL YOUR HUSBANDS is the story of three couples, with friendships that go back to their university days, and very different lives since then. When the 6 friends head off for a weekend away at a secluded house in the mountainous bush it initially seems like a typical weekend get-away. Drinking, eating, bushwalking and relaxing. No internet or mobile phone reception, a chance for a wind down. But on the first night, the topic of partner-swapping comes up and things get weird and dangerous very quickly.

The book is structured in an unusual manner, with the reader told a bit about the individuals involved using their first names only. Then a lot about a couple of bodies that show up, using their surnames only. It takes a while to be able to match the firstnames with the dead people - which means you're reading about at least 3 people (the dead bodies are all male), any two of which are dead. And it's here, in particular, that the author seems to have had some seriously good fun - any of these people are potentially "worthy" victims. The life circumstances of all of them have their ups and downs, but there's something decidedly NQR about all of these people. As are the circumstances, and here you realise that the author has most decidedly had fun. Dark, isolated, stormy, no mobile reception, batteries from the landline gone, one car only, the keys to it missing as well, all of which lead to a frantic dash down the mountain by one of the women (of course clad in a dressing gown) and the dramatic rescue dash / discovery of the bodies, two people in a knife-armed standoff, and one person completely missing from the scene. Oh and let's not get into the skimpy underwear / sleeping arrangements discovered...

By this stage you're probably thinking there's a lot going on in KILL YOUR HUSBANDS, but wait, there's more. Senior Constable Kiara Lui has already discovered a hit and run victim in the local town, whilst dealing with her girlfriend's PTSD after a dramatic kidnapping, so quite why she decides that the weekend after the murders, a nice getaway with her aforementioned traumatised girlfriend in the murder house will be just the ticket - well the skill of the author here is probably in making the reader just go with it. I mean, there's thinking, "not sure that's a good idea / but what the hell, something might emerge that solves the case", and there's screaming loudly, "what in the name of <insert deity of choice> do you bloody well think you're doing you daft woman". (I was sort of a bit in both camps, but hell, by that stage in KILL YOUR HUSBANDS, just about anything went, the popcorn was out, and the ride was crazy.

Obviously there's echoes here of a lot of the slightly "wacky" crime fiction that's been showing up recently. Maybe it's partly to do with the time of year (silly season and all that), maybe it's because serious is all very well, but every now and again a thriller that calls for a popcorn and some hefty suspension of disbelief is just the thing we all need. Either way, come for the entertainment, stay for the cleverness of the concept and execution.

Book Source Declaration
I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author.
Year of Publication

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 key to the car is 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 ...

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Karen Chisholm
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