Friday, August 2, 2013

The Husband

I have gotten to know author Dean Koontz through his Odd Thomas Series. Recently, I stumbled across his 2006 novel The Husband and spent a few evenings working my way through it. The story begins in a scene with the protagonist, Mitch Rafferty. Mitch is the owner of a small-time landscaping business in California. He loves his work and has dreams about starting a family with his wife Holly, but he is presently just making enough to pay the bills. Mitch is a decent, hard-working man who, despite a tough childhood, was able to escape his past and find happiness with the woman of his dreams. While in the middle of a job, he gets a call on his cell phone from a man who tells him that he has kidnapped Holly and is ransoming her for 2 million dollars. Mitch is blown away. His life has never been stained by any sort of criminal incursion. He is completely taken by surprise and tries to reason with Holly's kidnapper that he is just a struggling landscaper with no more than a few grand in the bank. The caller tells him that he has 60 hours to come up with the money and if he doesn't deliver they will kill Holly.

The twist is that they tell Mitch that if he goes to the authorities with what he knows, they will kill Holly. To bring their point home, they tell Mitch to look across the street as a man walking a dog along the sidewalk is gunned down. Later he finds out that his conversations with the police were being monitored. In a panic, he struggles to maintain his reason and to figure out how to proceed. At several points along his timeline, he encounters Sandy Taggert a police detective. Taggert is written in the Columbo mold. When he senses something is awry, he has a way of wheedling his way to the truth with a seemingly innocent set of questions meant to subtly disarm you.

Ultimately, Mitch is lead by the kidnappers to approach his brother Anson for the ransom money. Mitch has no idea what this is about as he is certain that Anson doesn't have much more money that he does. But he quickly finds out that Anson is not the loving brother that he thought he knew, and that Anson is connected to the kidnappers after having ripped them off in a deal gone bad. As the story unfolds, Mitch has just enough strength to get through each situation that he is faced with. We also slowly get to know a bit more about Holly and how she endures her captors. Not a bad work to spend to few nights with. Certainly a cookie-cutter molded suspense novel, but enjoyable nonetheless.