Unputdownable, but…

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is an author I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I have some of her reworkings of classic fairy tales on my shelves, and she’s written a variety of other dark and sexy books for adults, plus YA. Behind Her Eyes falls into the adult dark, psychothriller mode.
The blurb on my review copy of this book challenges the reader:

‘Don’t trust this book
Don’t trust this story
Don’t trust yourself
Whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending’

Well I won’t, and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have worked it out in a month of Sundays! Let’s tell you a little about the book.
Louise is a single mum who works part time as a secretary in a Harley Street psychiatry practice. She meets a man in a bar and they get on, they kiss, but it doesn’t go beyond a fumble – he’s married and can’t take it further – although you know he wants to.

Dropping off her son Adam at school, Louise bumps into a beautiful woman out for a jog. Neither of them is hurt, but Adele suggests going for a coffee and they get on and swap numbers. Friendship beckons.

Imagine Louise’s horror when she next goes in to work to find out that David is her new boss. Double shock when she sees the photos on his desk – his wife is Adele.

However, Louise and David agree to keep it professional, until he turns up at her house one day. Adam is on holiday with his father, so there is nothing to stop them getting it on. Meanwhile, Adele has been building a friendship with Louise and they have become gym buddies. They also share a common ailment – both suffer from night terrors. Adele claims becoming a lucid dreamer will do the trick – and gives Louise a little routine to help get into that state of mind – this routine opens the book:

‘Pinch myself and say I AM AWAKE once an hour.
Look at my hands. Count my fingers.
Look at clock (or watch), look away, look back.
Stay calm and focused.
Think of a door.’

This all leaves Louise in a classic conundrum. What is she to do? Stop the affair or stop the friendship? Well, of course Louise does neither – this is psychothriller land – and soon begins to get in over her head. There is something not right about David and Adele’s relationship.

Therein lies the problem with this book – if it had remained a standard psychothriller about love and sex, revenge and stalking it would admittedly have been a little more predictable, but real. Pinborough does a great job at shifting Louise’s allegiance from David to Adele and vice versa all the way through.

However, in the end, it went a step too far and became a bit silly, requiring too much of a suspension of belief for me. This is a shame – for I couldn’t put the book down. I started reading it one evening and finished it the next morning.

It was a pacy read, genuinely unputdownable and the ending was indeed totally audacious! But, when I stopped to think about it, this made the denouement impossible to work out, which robbed me of the satisfaction of the ta-dah moment I had hoped for. I do still want to read more by this author though. (7.5/10)


Source: Review copy (from TBR)

Sarah Pinborough, Behind Her Eyes (Harper Collins, Jan 2017) Hardback, 376 pages.

5 thoughts on “Unputdownable, but…

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Hey Rebecca – I wondered where you’d gone. Great to have you back in the blogosphere. (Off to revisit your blog now).

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