Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

A review of the fantastical psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.

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Every now and then, you’ll come across a book which makes you shout No way! on the very last page. Surprises like that are maddening, infuriating, intelligent, and wonderful, because the writer has kept you properly in suspense right up until the last minute.

Behind Her Eyes is a book just like that. I must confess that I hadn’t ever heard of Sarah Pinborough before having this book recommended to me, but now I want to make sure I read a lot more of her work—if this title is indicative of her writing style and quality, then I will not be disappointed.

Louise has been a single mum ever since her husband left, working part-time to support her and her child. When she meets David, a man she later discovers is both married and her new boss, she is instantly attracted to him—and he to her.

If the book had just been about their love, then I doubt I’d have got past the first chapter, or even the first page—not because it would have been a poorly written book, (many love stories are well-written), but because it’s not my kind of story. But the story is much more than that, and Pinborough’s writing skills very much tease out its multiple strands.

I was particularly taken with the character of Adele; she is a character whose head we are given an insight to. It’s a pleasure to see the complexities of a person at the heart of some of the plot tension, and she is multi-faceted enough to be a three-dimensional character.

This is a book about humanity and relationships, but Pinborough gives us a steady and careful drip-feed of information as the plot advances. We’re constantly observing a fast-paced web of intrigue that is easy to follow, yet complex in its web of ever-evolving dynamics and emotions.

I can honestly say that I was entirely fooled by the end plot-twist; I was convinced I knew what was going on by half to two-thirds of the way through, and that made the final page even more of an emotional punch when it took me down a new path instead.

Behind Her Eyes is hard to categorise—it’s a human drama and a psychological thriller, but with a fantastical element as well. There aren’t many titles that both my mum and I can enjoy and talk about—we usually orbit very different spheres of fiction—but this was just the sort of title that brought us together.

I had to read this book twice in quick succession, as I wanted to make sure the plot held up with the final revelation. But why did I even doubt Pinborough’s ability to keep everything tightly paced and controlled? There wasn’t a plot-point out of place, and it was as good on the second read as it was on the first.

If this book wasn’t thriller of the year, then justice is an ass—read this book and prepare to be entertained.

Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.

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