The first chapter of Behind Her Eyes contains only six sentences, a total of 34 words. Chapter two is not much longer, it takes up less than one page. As you begin chapter three you’re already curious. Sarah Pinborough (pictured here) offers a strong, intriguing beginning and you’ll find yourself asking more and more questions as you continue reading.
The story doesn’t seem all that unusual, at least at first. Thirty-four-year-old Louise, recently divorced and still hurting, walks into a bar and is immediately noticed by “the man of her dreams.” His name is David. His sweet-talking approach quickly leads to an explosive mutual attraction, sparks fly. While their time together that evening ends with nothing more than a kiss, they each leave with expectations. A few days later they meet again; not, however, in the way they expected. They’re both shocked to learn that David is Louise’s brand-new boss. And, not terribly surprisingly, he’s married. The awkward workplace encounter reads like the beginning of a triangle. And, of course, it is. As you might expect in a thriller, or certainly a romance novel, the illicit relationship blossoms.
Then Louise runs into Adele, literally. Clearly in a hurry, head down, she walks right into Adele. She knocks her to the sidewalk and, full of apologies, helps her to her feet. Adele, it turns out, is David’s wife. Louise, recognizing her from a picture on David’s desk, introduces herself and shares that she works with David. A coincidence? An accident of fate? They go for coffee. Adele quickly latches onto Louise. It’s the beginning of a close friendship.
The short, first-person chapters are narrated alternately by Louise and Adele. Gradually we learn more about the wife, the girlfriend and David himself. Well-spaced flashback chapters give us insight into Adele’s troubled past. But each chapter offers more questions than answers. The author doles out information sparingly.
Enigmas abound. The self-serving characters each keep secrets from the others. And from us. It’s clear that Adele has a specific motive in developing her friendship with Louise. We just don’t know what it is. Who’s lying to whom? Why? What is the truth. What on earth is going on? These unanswered questions and the quick reading chapters make this book a page turner.
Halfway through the book I put it down (not an easy thing to do) and made a few notes. “What’s this all about?” I wrote to myself. I do like thrillers. And of all the books I’ve read over the past few years, this is the one that stayed with me the most when I didn’t have it in my hands. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The flashback teasers as well as the ongoing first person accounts of Louise and Adele forced me to speculate. Another note to myself, “How could Adele possibly know so much?” Well into the book I finally figured I knew where it was going. I was wrong, dead wrong. You will be, too.
Pinborough has chosen an interesting way of mixing genres. Is this a thriller? A romance novel? Or maybe even something more? No matter how you choose to classify it, the book is decidedly creative.
You may find the impossibly unusual conclusion ingenious. You might even go wow! Several reviewers have. Perhaps, though, the ending will make you feel a bit cheated, even angry. Some who’ve shared their thoughts about the book have expressed those feelings, too. Either way it doesn’t change the fact that the book is addictive.
You won’t have any idea how this book ends until the very last few pages. Don’t cheat, you’ll spoil the adventure of guessing as you travel through the book. And like the ending or not, you will discover who is behind her eyes.
Joel Crockett opened the Four-Eyed Frog Bookstore in 2003. In 2017 he sold the store to the community and retired to Colorado. Joel continues to read and regularly write reviews for the Lighthouse Peddler.