First Monday Crime returns next week on the 6th March, 6.30-7.30pm at Browns in St Martin’s Lane, London, with a killer of a panel. Do you remember my clues from last month?
A former graphic designer now the Queen of Domestic Noir – Julia Crouch
A writer who has had a book adapted for TV and in turn, has adapted a TV series into books – Erin Kelly
A debut novelist who is more than used to flashing lights and the sound of sirens – Daniel Cole
A very experienced author who has worked on, written for and produced some of the best crime dramas on TV – MJ Arlidge
Barry Forshaw will be in charge of proceedings.
I’ve had the opportunity to read Julia Crouch’s latest novel – Her Husband’s Lover. Thank you to Julia Crouch and Headline.
After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died. Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though. But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life.
It’s fair to say that quite a lot of crime books tend to start with a bit of a bang. Her Husband’s Lover doesn’t just ‘hit the ground running’ though. I liken it more to a gymnastic floor routine with twists and turns and somersaults aplenty. Just when you think you’ve worked out what’s going on, there’s a 2 and half twist with pike and you’re none the wiser. Told with three viewpoints – Louisa, Sophie and Adam – the story moves back and forth between the past and the present. Although the seasons change in the past scenes, the present is set against the backdrop of a heatwave in London. Julia Crouch manages to capture that intense, heavy heat that you get in cities until I could almost smell it.
But there is more to this book than eloquent descriptions. Since reading Gone Girl, I’m always on the alert for unreliable narrators. It’s hard to separate the truths and the lies in this story. It was this that drove me on to keep reading – to find out the truth. I was torn between reading constantly and having to stop to take breath. The pace is almost relentless. But Crouch’s brilliance is characterisation. One minute I loved a character, then suspicious, then hated, before going back to loved. Multi-faceted and multi-flawed, the two women, Louisa and Sophie, are polar opposites of each other and Adam is the only balanced one, innocence personified. I particularly identified with Louisa during pregnancy and early motherhood. The sense that the reality of motherhood is so much harder than you thought possible, the failures and the utter hopelessness that surrounds you. If only Louisa, like me, had turned to chocolate. Not great for the figure but generally safer all round.
There is so much more I could say but I risk giving away spoilers. I am generally more attuned at spotting twists now but there was a major one in this book that I did not see coming at all! And I won’t say anymore than that. Using the old gymnastic scoring system (the new one is far too complicated), I give Her Husband’s Lover a perfect 10.
After a drama degree at Bristol University, Julia Crouch spent ten years devising, directing and writing for the theatre. During this time she had twelve plays produced and co-founded Bristol`s Public Parts Theatre Company. She has written four novels previously, including the highly-acclaimed CUCKOO.
She lives in Brighton with her husband, the actor and playwright Tim Crouch, and their three children.
You can find out more about Julia Crouch and buy her books here and you can follow her on Twitter @ThatJuliaCrouch
Tickets are still available for First Monday Crime. Click here to find out more and buy tickets.