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 they’d decided to have a conservatory fitted to the rear of their house.  With his recent promotion, they’d decided they could afford to expand on their house a little.

It wasn’t long before they’d accepted a quote and the build of their new conservatory was underway.  As usual, he’d left for work, leaving his wife at home to assist the builders with anything they may require.  As he was leaving he happened to notice one of the builders preparing for the job.  A ruggedly handsome man with a tattoo upon his muscular bicep depicting a devilish looking woman grasping a banner stating ‘Bad Boy’.  Of course at the time he thought little of it.

However, upon returning late from work again, he found his wife’s manner noticeably different.  She’d already had a shower, which was unlike her.  And she seemed overly flirtatious.  He couldn’t shake the thought that something had happened.  And it didn’t take him long to realise what that might be.

It must have been his loving and ever-faithful wife who was seduced by the muscular young builder.  And in a moment of weakness, she had submitted to his advances.  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 should have been at home so he could have stopped such a thing happening.  If anything he was the one at fault.

But worst of all was 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 to this man’s dishonouring of his beautiful, loving, and ever-faithful wife.  End this vileness once and for all…

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 to instantly ensnare the reader with.  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.  It’s the result of Power’s energetic and colourful delivery.  A storytelling that’s light-hearted and laced with just enough of a comical edge to keep the reader smirking from cheek to cheek.

And that’s when Power starts to get underway with the main driving-force behind his tale.  This is the point when the short really begins to gain momentum and the reader gets well and truly ensnared in Power’s writing.

Of course, as the story progresses, so the direction in which Power is taking his dastardly tale becomes increasingly clearer.  And as it does, so the heart-in-mouth suspense and teeth-grating tension begins to take hold of you.

Throughout the tale Power purposefully encourages us to side with the narrator.  It’s almost unavoidable.  Although the character’s name is never disclosed, and only a handful of details are ever given about his life, nevertheless the incredible depth of characterisation behind this quirky fella is what ultimately draws you in.  A seemingly straight-laced accountant-type, with a good job, and a painfully middleclass lifestyle; at first glance he seems easy to judge.  But as the layers are peeled back and the self-martyring side to the character reveals itself, a whole new perspective to the character becomes apparent.

It’s like taking the classic WASP stereotype and pushing the boundaries that stage further.  Even though our narrator has been so badly wronged by his wife, he still doesn’t blame her.  In fact his reaction isn’t one borne out of vengeance.  It’s one out of love and protection for his wife.  And Power tells this all from behind the eyes of our narrator – somehow convincing us to believe in this ingeniously backwards 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 truly 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 it’s because of this that the mounting tension becomes so all-consuming, so incredibly dominating, that it’ll feel like it could eventually swallow you up.

Gripping, compelling and utterly nerve-wracking.

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, he’d gradually racked up a debt of over twenty grand.  And it was all just stupid spending.  He’d let his wife keep using the credit cards, juggling the interest free credit until it had all eventually 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 any longer.

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 fucking news.  But Del had no other options.  But Tel had nothing he could offer 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.  His work should 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 those thoughts in their tracks.  He just couldn’t do that to her.

And then, in the middle of another restless night, his mobile phone started to ring.  It was Tel and he had a job for Del.  A couple of hours work for ten grand!  What could Tel possibly want him to do for so much cash?  What the hell was Del 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 and straight-to-the-point, 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 the classic premise of someone finding themselves in such serious, crippling debt, that they can’t see a way out of the hole they’re in, other than by doing 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 a similar dilemma?  Probably thousands, if not more.  And that’s one of the things that makes the tale so unnerving.  It’s so true to life, so god damn 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 with quick-witted humour alongside a constant stream of true-to-life thoughts that we can all relate to.

All in all the short is nothing short of a thoroughly entertaining and incredibly addictive read, full of dry humour and a gnawing sense of impending doom for poor old Del.  The last quarter of the short races by as you sit there with your heart beating away in your mouth.  And what an ending to finish the tale with.  Brutal, disturbing, and harrowingly unforgettable.

The collection runs for a total of 65 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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