Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Sarah is fast becoming my go-to author for those twisted dark pretzel of a story that blurs the line between psychological thrillers and surreal fantasies. Of course, Behind Her Eyes was a runaway hit phenomenon last year after it came. A dark, real dark psychological thriller guaranteed to knock the socks off you with it's double-whammy twists that hits you at the end.

The marketing materials came with specific instructions not to give away the mind blowing ending. And I agree that this definitely added to the hype and hoopla around the book making us intrigued, causing us to get to that end faster. I finished this in a week's time but I took my time purely because the premise and the story is really unsettling and caused me to stop several times and put this aside.

So the story is about three characters in love. Yes - a doomed love-triangle involving a very successful psychiatrist, his rich and beautiful wife and his secretary in office, a single mum. So far so good, sounds like a regular little love-story. And for much of the first half of the book as the story unravels through the opposing view-points of the two ladies in love with the same man, we have no reason to believe otherwise.

Louise is the easier of the two to warm up to. A single mom whose life revolves around Adam - her young son, "the only man in her life" doesn't really have much of a social life. Working part-time at the plush psychiatrist clinic in the locality, her life revolves around the chores at home and reading stories for her little man every evening and doing wine and gossip sessions with her best friend. But one evening she falls for a man in the bar, kisses him only to call it off in a fit of guilt but still starts to weave a silly fantasy around him - till the next day morning, she realizes he's her boss.

Adele is a rich girl married to David, the successful doctor - but there are apparent issues in their marriage.  The move to this new neighbourhood was a move on their part to rekindle the flame. Adele is firmly in love with David, she's sure of that and slaves day in day out, to make sure things go back to normal. Like how it was in the beginning. But David's not showing any signs of relenting - taking to drinks and being absent from home for long hours.

As we progress through the story - with Adele still struggling to keep the marriage intact and Louise struggles with her feelings for 'the-man-in-the-bar' - the first signs of the duplicitous nature of both women start to surface. And there are enough hints dropped to even suggest David's probably got plans hidden up his sleeve. Adele's POV is the most compelling of the lot - the raw desire, the unhinged plans, the hidden spinning wheels in her head - it makes for a really interesting character, the wells of her plans are deep and hidden from view. Her love for her husband is frightening and the only thing we are sure about her is that this girl would go to any extent to get to her goals. Louise's character, am sure is a crowd favourite. The way in which the girl grows a spine of steel - having been drawn into this web spun by both husband-wife [ Oh she is befriended by Adele right from the start. Yeah - the lies and deceit flies thick and fast all over ] she is not sure who to trust and whose side she ultimately is on. And she's got her own problems of night terrors that she is dealing with. We are also taken to the past, a flashback sequence of Adele recovering in a psych-ward befriending another lost soul called Rob - a junkie and a social derelict whose diary becomes an interesting side-line to the whole duplicitous yarn unspooling.  

One thing about Sarah's story is that her characters are all broken flawed individuals. Twisted in their minds with a eventful past that has led them to this juncture in life. They are compelling in their broken ways with their issues, struggling through life. The unrealiable narration is brilliantly done. The clues, if any given through the book are like weeds in water. Further entangling you as you try and ponder about it. 'The truth is different to different people' - and after all the smoke and mirrors you wade through to that ending - I thought I saw the first one coming. Still it hit me like a hurricane. The second one though. Motherf***ing humdinger of a twist that one. Never saw that.

If ever a book ending satisfied me, then that is this one. So I am now cautious ploughing through the second book in this series, Cross Her Heart!


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