First published back in January of 2014, British author Kit Power’s ‘The Loving Husband And The Faithful Wife’ was an ebook only release containing two gritty short stories by the author – the title story and the additional short ‘The Debt’.

The Loving Husband And The Faithful Wife
Five years ago he had decided to have a conservatory fitted to the rear of their house.  Work had been going well, and with the recent promotion, they could afford to expand on their house.  So he had builders come around, he selected his most favourable quote and then accepted.

With the build of their new conservatory underway, he went off to work, leaving his wife at home to assist the builders with anything they may require.  As he was about to leave, he happened to notice one of the builders preparing for the job.  A ruggedly handsome man with a tattoo depicting a red devil lady holding a banner stating ‘Bad Boy’ upon his muscular bicep.  At the time he thought little of it.

However, upon returning late again from work, he found his wife’s manner very different than normal.  She had already had a shower, which was unlike her.  And she seemed overly flirtatious.  Something had clearly happened.  And it didn’t take him long to realise what that might be.

He decided that his loving and ever-faithful wife must have been seduced by this muscular young builder, and in a moment of weakness, had submitted to his advances.  And now she was clearly reeling from the guilt.  She didn’t deserve to be feeling this way.  She shouldn’t be beating herself up over his abandonment of her at such a time.  He knew he should have been there to have stopped such a thing happening.

But worst of all, he knew that his poor wife’s honour would soon be sullied by the boasting of this vile thug.  He had to do something.  He had to put an end once and for all to this man’s dishonouring of his beautiful, loving, and ever-faithful wife…

Kit Power can write.  Scrap that – Kit Power can right bloody well.  His stories are instantly captivating.  His prose and delivery is entertainment in itself.  Very much in the way Richard Laymon managed to instantly draw his audience in, so Kit Power has managed to tap into a similar style – utterly unpretentious and so damn compelling.

Indeed, on the face of it the initial third or so of this short tale has little action or explosive drama in it to instantly ensnare the reader.  However even with the relatively mundane relaying of the characters’ day-to-day lives and the intricate details that surround them, this first portion is nevertheless entertaining simply in itself.  And it’s all through Power’s energetic and colourful delivery.  It’s relatively light-hearted and laced with just enough of a comical edge to keep the reader smirking and captivated by the characters and their lives.

And then of course, Power starts to add in the main driving-force behind his tale.  And it’s here that the short really begins to gain momentum and get the reader thoroughly ensnared.  As the story gradually progresses, so it starts to become increasingly clear where author Kit Power is going with his dastardly tale.  And with that, so the heart-stopping suspense and teeth-grating tension begins to take hold of it all.

Power purposefully encourages us to side with our narrator.  It’s almost unavoidable.  Although his name is never disclosed, and only a handful of details given about his life, the sheer characterisation behind this quirky fella is what draws you in.  A seemingly straight-laced accountant-type, with a good job, and a painfully middleclass lifestyle; our narrator initially seems to be easy to judge.  But as the layers are peeled back, and the self-martyring side to the character reveals itself, a whole new perspective becomes increasingly apparent.  And oh how addictive this is by now.

It’s like taking an exaggerated vision of the WASP stereotype and then pushing the boundaries even further.  Even though our narrator has been wronged so bitterly by his wife, he doesn’t blame her.  In fact his reaction to it all isn’t one borne out of his own personal vengeance.  It’s one out of love and protection for his wife.  And Power shows this all from behind the eyes of our narrator, presenting us with his ingeniously convincing reasoning.

However, for me the real strength behind the short tale is with the almost palpable tension and the utterly convincing realism achieved through a magnificent attention to detail.  From the start until the very end of the story, the reader is sucked in with the believable step-by-step development of what is taking place.  Those little details that you don’t think about, but what make it all seem like it’s actually being played out before your eyes.  And through this, the tension that’s mounting up becomes almost unbelievable.

Gripping, compelling and utterly nerve-wracking.  It’s one hell of an achievement within such a short tale.

The Debt
Del was in trouble.  He needed some serious money and he needed it fast.  After taking a twenty percent cut in his wage during the credit crunch, they’d gradually racked up a debt of over twenty grand.  And it was all just stupid spending.  He’d let his wife just keep on using the credit cards, juggling the interest free credit between the cards until it had all caught up with him.

What’s worse was that Pam didn’t know a thing about it.  He’d kept the whole matter quiet; hiding the statements and binning the evidence.  But now it had reached a point where he couldn’t hide the truth from her any longer.  He had just twenty-eight days until the credit card companies started referring the debts to the bailiffs.  And when they did, Del knew he wouldn’t be able to hide the shameful truth from Pam anymore.

He’d approached Tel in the hope of getting some not-so-kosher work on the side.  He’d hated doing it, but desperate times called for desperate measures.  The guy was a thug and a sadist.  Bad news if ever there was any.  But Del had little other options left.  However Tel had nothing for him.

So Del had started contemplating suicide.  It had gotten to the stage where he couldn’t see any way out of this hole.  Suicide would sort out their money troubles.  Work would hopefully pay out, covering the mortgage at the very least.  It could be the answer.  But the thought of what it would do to their nine-year-old daughter, Jodie, stopped such thoughts in their tracks.  He couldn’t do that to her.

And then, with his days fast running out and in the middle of another restless night, his mobile phone starts ringing.  It’s Tel and he has a job for Del to do.  A couple of hours work for ten grand!  What the hell could Tel want him to do for so much?  What the hell was he getting himself into?...

Another story that just swallows you up as soon as you start reading it.  Again, Kit Power’s prose is completely unpretentious, straight-to-the-point and without any hint of unnecessary over-padding.  In fact, the story and style of writing feels so Richard Laymon that on a blind reading test I bet most would be edging towards Laymon as the man behind the tale.

So, what have we got with ‘The Debt’?  Well, in essence it’s that classic premise of a man in debt who can’t see a way out of the hole he’s in, other than to do something bad.  It’s a pretty downbeat premise – but one that rings true of the realities of modern life.  Such things happen every day.  How many people in Britain alone are facing similar dilemmas?  Probably thousands if not more.  And that’s one of the things that makes the tale so unnerving.  It’s so very true to life, so very real, so gut-churningly possible.

Like with ‘The Loving Husband And The Faithful Wife’, the story is character-rich, captivatingly easy to read, and incredibly entertaining.  It’s what you’d call an addictive read.  One that’s pretty much impossible to put down once you’ve started reading it.

The story itself is written entirely from the first-person-perspective of Del.  And to be fair, the decision to tell the story from behind-the-character’s-eyes was the right one.  Indeed, Power capitalises on the perspective to its full effect – telling the story from within the head of Del, with quick-witted humour injected in alongside a constant stream of true-to-life ponderings that we can all relate to having.

At the end of the day this is quite simply a thoroughly entertaining and incredibly easy-to-become-sucked-into short, full of dry humour and a gnawing sense of impending doom for our poor narrator.  The last quarter of the short will race by, as you sit there with your heart in your mouth.  And what can I say about the ending?  Brutal.  Disturbing.  And harrowingly unforgettable.

The collection runs for a total of 65 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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