Well, I accidentally took a week off. I was supposed to go to the beach this weekend but the gas pipeline ransom thingy caused a rush on the gas stations (like all the people who panic when a hurricane comes and buy stupid crap in bulk...or all the toilet paper). So I just met a friend for lunch and shopping at Ulta.
Ulta was slammed too! Like, everyone was there getting their stockpile back up. I needed more foundation and perfume so it worked out just fine. It's too bad about the beach because the weather was perfect.
I'm not happy about any of the decoration decisions I've made in my home office/library set up. So I'm still working that out. It's just a mess in this room.
The book on review is called It's Always the Husband. I thought the blurb was interesting, although I figured it was most likely going to be more of a thriller than mystery led. It started slow but I think picked up at the end.
Title: It's Always The Husband
Author: Michele Campbell
Page Number: 336 pages
Genre: fiction, mystery, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, a part of Macmillan
Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.
How did things come to this?
As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?
So the author has the first chapter on her website, which is quite nice. You can get a feel for her writing style, as it stays consistent throughout the book. I feel like I have another one of her books but I don't see it. Which doesn't mean much as I have books stacked on top of one another and behind one another. That's on me.
So the book goes back and forth between two pivotal times for the trio of main characters. The first time is the freshman year at Carlisle University in New Hampshire. The second time period is twenty years later, still at the town where Carlisle is located.
The three main characters are Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. Kate is the legacy at Carlisle, she comes from a wealthy family in New York City. She's popular, loved, and hated. She parties hard with drugs, alcohol, and boys. She's also vain, selfish, and slightly sociopathic in how she treats people. The next roommate is Aubrey from Las Vegas. Aubrey is poor and is in Carlisle through grit and luck. She's from a troubled home and latches on to Kate and Jenny (but mostly Kate) in order to succeed. The last girl in Jenny. Jenny is a townie who is very driven. She's middle-class and the problem solver for the whole trio.
The three women are roommates at the dorms in Carlisle. The first part of the book follows the three women as they try and find their way in college. Kate is reckless and cruel, Aubrey is weak and social climbing, Jenny is Machiavellian. There's incidents between the three of them where it becomes obvious that these girls aren't really friends but frenemies. Kate takes Aubrey's boyfriend/crush, Lucas, because she can. Aubrey dumps Jenny to go New York with Kate, Jenny is being paid to spy on Kate by Kate's father. They're a mess.
The first part of the book is slow. And as you get to know the three women, it becomes apparent that they're unlikable. To the reader, to other characters, to one another.
The second part of the book picks up the pace, which is good. It really comes together in the second half. I would rate the first half as as 2 or 3 star but the second part is more of a 4 star. It made it hard to rate in my head.
The second time point is twenty years down the line. Jenny has married another townie named Tim. They've created a small political empire of sorts. Jenny is the mayor of the town and Tim runs a successful business. Aubrey has married a doctor named Ethan and she has opened a yoga studio. Jenny and Aubrey have children and are distant but civil. Kate moved back to town as her father owns a house or two in the town. She's married but cheating on her college sweetheart (of sorts), Griff. Griff is also a rich New Yorker, beloved by her Kate's family because he's like them. Kate is a mess. She's abusing substances, cheating on her husband, and then on her boyfriend, spending money she doesn't have, and fighting with her family. She comes back into town like a whirlwind of bad luck.
The mystery begins here. We know at the beginning that one of the three women will wind up dead.
There are some threads that lead to the cause of the death. In college the three women might have covered up a murder when one of Aubrey's boyfriends (that Kate stole) ended up dead, at the bottom of a crevice. Jenny helped them clean it all up. When Kate comes back into town, the three women fall back into old habits. Kate makes moves on Jenny and Aubrey's husbands, Kate's husband is trying to get her help and is increasingly frustrated. So when one of the women ends up dead, the sheriff looks at the husband. It's statistically most likely a spouse when a partner is murdered (leading to the title). So here, the reader has to discover if there is a jealously motive (did the husband kill to get rid of the murdered woman?), or spurned lover (did the other woman kill?), or was it an accident? Basically, the mean things all the characters do to one another gives plenty of cause.
I liked the second half of the book a lot. It was fast-paced, full of suspense and twists, and clear. My issue with the book is that I disliked all the characters. None of them are redeemable. I suppose Jenny is the best of the lot...but she steps on people/uses people to get what she wants. It makes it hard to continue the story sometimes.
I wrote on my notes for the book that this is an ode to a toxicity in some friendships and marriages. It's a domestic + collegiate suspense. I think I would rate this maybe a 3.5 stars. I liked it and thought it was great at the end. It was a rough read because of the first half of the book and unredeemable characters. I thought the writing was clear. The mystery/suspense was simple even though there were several twists. Most of the mystery was created by withholding information...and only doling it out with conversation between the three women.