The Review

Preposterous ending to love triangle roller-coaster

Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes is so gripping it has the potential to be a Hollywood flick.
Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes is so gripping it has the potential to be a Hollywood flick.PHOTO: LOU ABERCROMBIE

Hot on the heels of blockbuster grip-lit (short for gripping literature written by female writers) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins comes Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes, a psychological thriller with an ending worthy of the hashtag #WTFthatending (the acronym WTF is associated with the exclamation 'what the f***') that is stamped across the book's back cover.

Its shocking twists at the end is what sets the thriller apart from the legion of suspense novels that have readers eagerly putting their detective skills to the test.

British author Pinborough has masterfully managed an ending so preposterous that you would not see it coming (do not worry, there are no spoilers ahead).

The tale follows the age-old love triangle scenario, told from the perspectives of the two women involved in it. Louise, a lonely single mum and Adele, the beautiful and mysterious wife of David, the man Louise locks lips with in a bar.

It is only later that Louise finds out that David is married. He also happens to be her new boss at the clinic where she works as a part-time secretary. As if things were not complicated enough, Adele and Louise become friends although each has secrets that she keeps from the other.

  • FICTION

  • BEHIND HER EYES

    By Sarah Pinborough

    HarperCollins Publishers/

    Paperback/

    373 pages/$27.90/ Books Kinokuniya/ 3.5/5 stars

As Louise gets to know the married couple, she finds herself getting entangled in their lives: "The more I fall for David, the more fascinated I become with Adele. It's a vicious cycle."

As with any thriller, this story is not all it seems.

Pinborough slowly unveils juicy tidbits about the three characters - primarily the married couple - making it difficult for the reader to pinpoint the villain.

Is it David, the seemingly controlling husband or Adele, the homemaker with a dark past?

Just when readers might think they have a hold on the truth, Pinborough adeptly invalidates her earlier hints.

As she shrewdly writes: "The past is as ephemeral as the future - it's all perspective and smoke and mirrors."

The carefulness that Pinborough exercises consequently adds drag to the story's flow, however.

The twists and turns become excessive halfway through the novel that it almost feels as if Pinborough is milking the nail-biting suspense for all its worth.

Ultimately, the ending does justify the roller-coaster of a ride.

Compacted into the last few chapters, one unexpected punch is delivered after another, Pinborough meticulously ensuring that each corroborates with earlier parts of the text.

It is only a matter of time before Behind Her Eyes is adapted into a Hollywood flick just as its grip-lit predecessors Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train have been.

If you like this book, read: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Orion, 2012, $15.95, Books Kinokuniya), a dark thriller revolving around a broken marriage, told by both spouses in alternating chapters.

Gurveen Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Preposterous ending to love triangle roller-coaster'. Print Edition | Subscribe