Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors

By Gail Allison

From the outside, Jack and Grace Angel are the perfect couple: he’s a powerful lawyer who vehemently defends his clients to ensure their abusers receive the justice they deserve (and has never lost a case), and she’s his gorgeous trophy wife, the perfect hostess and doting partner. But is their flawless marriage just a performance for the world? Are Jack and Grace really all they appear to be, or does something far more sinister lie beneath the happy couple’s blissful façade?

When Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris opens, we meet Jack and Grace at a dinner party they’re throwing for friends. Immediately there is an air of tension between the two, even though they’re playing at being a blissful couple from the get-go. Grace tenses up when she knocks a champagne bottle against the counter, and the reader immediately starts to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. What is happening between Jack and Grace that we are not yet privy to.

The character development in this novel is absolutely amazing. Jack and Grace have layers upon layers that kept me completely gripped by this story. It was touted as the next Gone Girl, but I would hesitate to call it that. I found that Gone Girl was more suspenseful and left the reader with storyline questions as you started to get deeper (which were obviously answered by the end), whereas this novel unfolds gradually but super intensely, prompting questions about who the characters are and how they’re going to react to each situation as it comes up.

We meet Grace’s sister Millie a chapter or two in, and see how she’s played a role in the relationship between Grace and Jack. As we start to learn who Jack really is, Millie’s innocence creates a fantastic juxtaposition against Jack’s emerging personality. There are really no unanswered questions in the plotline throughout this story, just a sense of needing to know what happens next. Ms. Paris has created a gripping story, rich with enough detail that you become completely empathetic with Grace’s situation while still finding yourself so deep in the story that you need to know what’s going to happen next. Interestingly, I found that as I got further into this book any time I put it down I’d inevitably have to stretch my shoulders back and consciously take a deep breath. It’s just that riveting!

I can’t say enough about the characters in this book. They are painted perfectly enough that you start to look at people around you and wonder what’s going on beneath the surface. Is that happy couple really blissfully happy? Is she agreeing with him because he has a great idea or is there some undercurrent that we’re not aware of? Ms. Paris infuses each of the characters in this book with the same sort of layering, and is extremely adept and describing Grace’s confusion and anxiety as the book goes on. Again, I was finding myself consciously relaxing my shoulders while reading this, which is always a good sign that I’m totally invested in these characters and their story.

I do want to warn readers that this is definitely a psychological thriller. The romance in it is minimal, and the suspense greatly eclipses it. I wasn’t sure what to expect before I picked it up (it’s Ms. Paris’ first novel) but I’ll definitely stay tuned for her next offering…just perhaps not to be read alone on a dark stormy night. It’s one for the re-read stack for sure.

Thanks to Wunderkind PR for the book in exchange for an honest review. This is part of BookSparks' 2016 Fall Reading Challenge.


Janine said...

Great review

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