IT'S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND by Michele Campbell


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Three college roommates find their lives inextricably linked after the death of a friend.

Aubrey, Jenny, and Kate are assigned to room together at Carlisle College. Aubrey is banking on Carlisle to help her escape her mother's poverty; Jenny grew up in the college town but hopes Carlisle will help her channel her ambitions; and Kate is the rich wild child whose father’s connections helped her get admitted to the school. Their relationships quickly become complicated. One of the guys Kate begins to date, Lucas, dated Jenny in high school. Aubrey’s grades suffer after her mother’s death and because of her drug use with Kate. Jenny agrees to keep Kate’s father apprised of his daughter’s activities, especially given that Kate has been suicidal in the past, in return for future connections. All of these tensions lead up to Aubrey’s decision to commit suicide with Kate, except that Lucas inadvertently dies instead. The girls keep quiet about the circumstances of Lucas’ death, but 20 years later, they all end up living back in their old college town. Now all of them are married, and there are new tensions and secrets. Kate has married another boyfriend from college, Griff, though she is unfaithful to him; Aubrey married a doctor, though she has feelings for Griff; Jenny has become mayor and married Lucas' cousin, Tim, though their memories of the night Lucas died are quite different. When Kate dies at the same railroad bridge where Lucas fell to his death, questions resurface not only regarding who killed Kate, but what happened on the bridge 20 years ago, too. Kate's friends, lovers, and husband all become suspects in her murder, but nearly everyone would rather her death be labeled a suicide and the investigation closed. Campbell’s debut novel is an intriguing whodunit that examines the explosive potential of secrets to destroy friendships, marriages, and lives. While the novel is a page-turner, the characters at times lack depth and humanity, as each person betrays either a friend, a romantic partner, or both. At times, the characters' self-involvement detracts from the suspense of the novel, as introspective moments are spent reflecting on lies that have been told rather than the more serious ethical and moral implications. However, perhaps this is part of Campbell's larger point: complicity through silence contributes as much to each of the crimes as the acts of violence.

Moody and dark in its portrayal of friendship and marriage.

Pub Date: May 16th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-08180-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2017


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