ARC REVIEW: The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton

Title: The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton
Pages: 368
Published by: Wildfire
Publication date: 19th August 2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Amazon UK – Waterstones


Charlotte and Sam were partners. In life, and in crime. They never stole from anyone who couldn’t afford it. Wealthy clients, luxury cruise ships. It was easy money, and harmless. At least, that’s what Charlotte told herself, until the world caved in on her.

But now, years after she tried to put that past life behind her, it comes rushing back when her estranged ex-husband Sam suddenly goes missing – and someone threatens to expose what they did.

Desperate to escape whoever is tormenting her, Charlotte takes a job as events planner for an engagement party onboard a superyacht in the Caribbean. For a while, her plan seems to have worked, nothing but open ocean and clear skies ahead. Until it becomes clear that she’s no longer a thousand miles away from harm.

Because whoever is behind it all is onboard too. And now there’s nowhere left to run.

My review:

A massive thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review!

The Ex-Husband is a brilliant mix of escapism and tense thriller as Karen Hamilton weaves together a very taut, nailing-biting story that had me on the edge of my seat throughout, waiting to see if Charlotte’s tormentor caught up with her.

The story follows Charlotte Wilson who is a former con-artist. She met her ex-husband, Sam, while working on a cruise ship and together they stole from their wealthy passengers. They were having the time of their lives until Charlotte developed a conscience and decided she didn’t want to live a life of crime anymore. Years later, Sam messages her to say he’s being threatened and when he disappears, Charlotte starts receiving similar threatening messages. Fearing for her life, Charlotte accepts a job onboard a luxury yacht to escape, but she soon discovers that the person threatening her is also onboard. 

I haven’t read many books that are set on a cruise ship and I found this one to be perfect in terms of descriptions. Hamilton beautifully describes the luxurious cruise ships and the stunning Caribbean islands, which, after a year of lockdowns, offered the perfect escape and left me itching to go on holiday myself. However, I would not like to be on any of the ships Charlotte and Sam were on!

I didn’t like Sam straight from the get-go and thought he was a really selfish person. Even the way he spoke to Charlotte was awful and I couldn’t see what she loved about him. He seemed to have an instant dislike for wealthy people and didn’t even bother getting to know anyone properly. While Charlotte started feeling guilty, Sam was too stuck in his ways and was never going to change.

Charlotte, on the other hand, I felt more conflicted about. I didn’t really like her, but I am glad she developed a conscience in the end as it did redeem her character a little bit. However, I couldn’t forget that she was right there alongside Sam, coming up with ideas on how to con people out of their money. She also paints herself as a victim, which I struggled to believe, especially when she still gets caught up in the thrill of it. Yes, there were a few moments when she almost fell back into her old ways so I wouldn’t say she has redeemed herself completely, or that she can entirely blame Sam for what she did. I couldn’t help but feel she deserved being exposed after what she put her victims through.

The pacing was slow for the first half of the story as Hamilton sets everything up – Charlotte meeting Sam, conning people, going their separate ways and then receiving the threatening messages – but it soon ramps up and I found myself racing through the second half. The chapters also alternate between the past and the present and I found the present-day chapters to be more exciting. Charlotte has to do a bit of detective work as she tries to figure out who is threatening her. I was pointing my finger at all the guests onboard the yacht at one point and it was fun trying to unravel their connection to Charlotte. Everything comes to a head in the last few chapters, and I was eager to find out Charlotte’s fate. 

The Ex-Husband offers a sense of foreboding throughout and will keep you on your toes waiting to see what happens. It’s a great holiday thriller packed with dark twists. 

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