Review published on May 6, 2017.
When a book comes with endorsements of ‘a corker of an ending’ and ‘a whammy of a finale’ and a blurb that expressly warns ‘whatever you do, don’t give away that ending’, you can’t help but try and foresee what’s in store as you read, just as the pull of the psychological thriller is in trying to guess the twists. But I’d say it’s nigh on impossible to guess either in Sarah Pinborough’s uncontainable new novel, Behind Her Eyes. Indeed, there’s not one but two killer twists at the end, and they must be amongst the most original and arresting I’ve read. Although the first twist felt sufficient for me, and the second lost perhaps a bit of the wow factor, you have to admire Pinborough’s audacity to go through with two such impressively staggering manoeuvres and not just stop after the first one, which is enough to blow the reader’s socks off as it is. Indeed, if the first twist pulls the rug out from under your feet, the second twist pile-drives through the very ground. Ending aside though, Pinborough creates a highly addictive read throughout, centring on the uncertain dynamic between the main characters, Louise, a single mother, David, Louise’s new boss, and Adele, David’s wife. On the surface, it seems very much standard psychological thriller fare and Pinborough does this genre incredibly well, but it is the additional dimension that Pinborough adds to the novel that is borne out in the finale, which really sets the book aside. I must admit I did initially struggle with the nature of the thread that Pinborough introduces and it does require some suspension of disbelief, but ultimately it adds an unusual and interesting quality to the story that prevents it from becoming just another psychological thriller. However, I suspect readers may be split over this element of the novel and consequently the book as a whole, but it’s definitely a book that is worth reading for the discussion about what Pinborough does, if nothing else, and as such I expect it would make a highly stimulating read for book groups. And there will be many many individual readers who will love this book too.
Jade Craddock 4/5
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
HarperCollins 9780008131968 hbk Jan 2017