Skip to main content

The Husband


The Husband

I have had a number of conversations with friends since I finished
reading THE HUSBAND by Dean Koontz. I could best summarize them all
in three words: Read this book. Arguably it is not only Koontz's
most superior work, it is also one of the best books by anyone this

THE HUSBAND is a strong and confident novel in which each and all
of Koontz's considerable strengths --- characterization, dialogue,
plot, narration --- show up at the worksite tanned, rested and
ready, demonstrating how the job is done. To be fair, Koontz has
had books in which one or more of those elements were not doing
their share of the lifting, and others recently where the tone
might have been just a bit too whimsical for the subject matter.
Forget all of that, and apply the "Jim Smith" rule to this book:
"If THE HUSBAND was by Jim Smith, would you love it?" The answer is
a resounding and emphatic "Yes!"

Koontz's everyman this time around is Mitch Rafferty, a successful
small businessman who runs his own landscaping service. His life is
difficult, but his work is good and his marriage to Holly is
wonderful. Rafferty in fact is working when he gets a telephone
call from a total stranger informing him that his wife has been
kidnapped and that two million dollars in 60 hours or so will get
her back. Oh, and don't contact the police. The caller appears to
be omnipresent; just to prove it, in the middle of the call a man
walking his dog across from Rafferty is shot dead.

Rafferty has no idea what to do. There is a wonderfully persistent
police detective who suspects that something is up with Rafferty
and who has a habit of turning up at the worst possible times.
There is the problem of lacking funds --- Rafferty is solvent, but
he hardly has a spare two million, or even two hundred thousand,
lying around --- and he is under the gun. He's a brave enough guy,
but he's not going to hold a televised press conference, flash the
money at the kidnappers and spit in their eye. What Rafferty will
do, however, is slowly but steadfastly take steps to get his wife
back. To do this, he will figure out the whys, the whos and the
wherefores behind the kidnapping. Why did they pick Holly, who is
married to a landscaper? When Rafferty finds out, he will get the
shock of his life. And so will you.

A lesser author would have saved these revelations until the end,
but here the cat is let out of the bag within the first half of the
novel. So at a point where most books would end, THE HUSBAND is
just beginning. Oh, is it ever. There are surprises and bogeymen
and violence and romance, and Koontz is at the absolute top of his
game. Rafferty is a great, empathetic character, the bad guys will
chill your blood, the plot twists and turns, and the original turns
of phrase come at you so quickly that you'd think it was Koontz's
first book rather than his 47th (or 49th, depending on which ones
you count). Oh, and don't even think about putting it down. You'll
wonder so much about what's going to happen that you won't get
anything done until you finish it.

If you think that Koontz isn't as strong as he used to be, check
out THE HUSBAND. He's stronger and better than ever. Highest
possible recommendation.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Husband
by Dean Koontz

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553589091
  • ISBN-13: 9780553589092