The Perfect Husband

by

Author: Lisa Gardner

Title: The Perfect Husband

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 404 p.

Geographical Setting: Arizona (Nogales), U.S. East Coast

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Pierce Quincy Novels

Plot Summary:  Abused by her father as a girl, gentle and obedient Tess Williams believes that she is saved when police officer Jim Beckett appears in her life and marries her, only to discover that life married to sadistic and controlling Beckett is even worse than life before.  Upon discovering that her ‘perfect husband” is actually a serial killer, responsible for the brutal deaths of ten young women, Tess is instrumental in helping the police department put him behind bars.  At the beginning of the novel, Jim Beckett has escaped from prison and is determined to track down and take his revenge on his wife, killing her and taking away their four-year-old daughter Samantha.  Knowing that the police cannot protect her from such a man as Beckett, Tess leaves her daughter in a safe-house and travels to Arizona to enlist the help of ex-marine, retired mercenary and troubled, alcoholic widower J.T. Dillon and his icy, strong-willed FBI Agent sister, Marion.  What follows is a fast-paced and engrossing suspense novel, which takes you alternately between lust, romance, and sheer terror, as J.T. Dillon and Tess struggle to prepare for Beckett’s attack, fall in love, and fight their individual demons along the way.

Subject Headings:  Serial murderers’ wives, escaped convicts, Men/women relations, Revenge in men, Self-defense for women, Married people, Former Marines, Serial murderers, Domestic Violence

Appeal: Suspenseful, fast-paced, thrilling, psychological, character-centered, frightening, sexy, romantic, nerve-shattering, plot-driven, engrossing, multiple points of view, dramatic, menacing, violent, grisly, steamy.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Suspenseful, engrossing, sexy.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed American:  The true, historical account of the serial killer of H.H. Holmes who preyed on young female fair goers of the Chicago 1893 World Fair. A non-fiction work that reads like a gritty and grisly fast-paced suspense novel.

2) Roger Depue, Between Good and Evil: a master profiler’s hunt for society’s most violent predators: A former FBI serial killer profiler and investigator shares his experiences in law enforcement and as a member of the clergy who counsels convicts, describing his part in the creation of new law enforcement programs and techniques.

3) Vincent Bugliosi, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders: The prosecutor of the Tate-LaBianca trials presents the inside story behind the Manson killings, explaining how Charles Manson was able to make his “family” murder for him, chronicling the investigation, and describing the court trial that brought him and his accomplices to justice.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Tami Hoag, Deeper Than the Dead: Like Gardner, Tami Hoag’s novels frequently read like movie scripts and are full of the thrills, chills, and fright that Gardner readers have come to expect.  This novel also contains a serial killer in a small town.

2) J.D. Robb, In Death Series: Lisa Gardner and J. D. Robb both write romantic suspense featuring fast-paced investigations that pit investigators against a range of deadly criminals. Both offer the satisfactions of on-going series characters, detailed settings, fascinating investigations, and romantic interest

3) Harlan Coben, Tell No One:  Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben write fast-paced, suspenseful mysteries that are well-plotted but also feature intriguing characters and accurate details about crime-solving.  Tell No One also involves a serial killer and male/female relationships.

Name: Rebecca C.

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