By Ekta R. Garg
August 3, 2016
Genre: Psychological thriller
Rated: Bordering on Bypass it / 2.5 stars
A woman realizes too late that her new husband wants to over her. With thoughts of other family members in mind, she realizes she’ll have to find a way to escape the clutches of someone who had once promised to love her forever. Author B.A. Paris follows the latest trend of psychological thriller in the sometimes vague and ultimately predictable novel Behind Closed Doors.
When Grace Harrington meets Jack Angel in the park, she thinks she’s run into the love of her life. The fact that Jack showers so much attention on Grace’s sister, Millie, who has Down’s syndrome seals the deal for Grace. Any man who could offer his time so selflessly to others must be a gem.
It doesn’t take long for Grace to figure out that the man she took for a gem is actually a lump of coal. After a whirlwind romance, Grace and Jack get married and on their wedding day Jack reveals his true intentions in marrying Grace. He doesn’t want a wife; he wants an object to control. An item to satisfy his darkest desires.
Grace’s disbelief gets replaced with the dulling realization that Jack has planned for every possibility. He doesn’t allow Grace to socialize with anyone except in the most controlled situations. She can’t pursue friendships with other women. She can’t even answer the phone in her own home.
If she only had herself to worry about, Grace would find a way to fight Jack and get out but she has Millie to consider. In a matter of months Millie is due to leave the special school she attends and come live with Jack and Grace—on Jack’s insistence. Grace knows that if Jack brings Millie home, their lives will become a nightmare with no end. Grace is determined not to let her husband hurt her sister in any way, but her days to find a solution begin to dwindle.
Author B.A. Paris’s debut novel travels down familiar roads. With the success of novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, B.A. Paris does her best to fulfill the requirements of the psychological thriller genre. For the most part she succeeds: protagonist Grace is attractive and has weighty emotional ties that prevent her from pursuing the easiest solution; antagonist Jack possesses the necessary narcissism usually exhibited by deranged characters; and the timeline guarantees that readers will flip pages as fast as possible to find out what happens.
Unlike other novels in the genre, however, the vagueness of Jack’s motivation and troubled background may make readers frown. His methods, no doubt, are downright disturbing; some might find his abuse of Grace hard to process. But Paris doesn’t come up with specific details to support Jack’s incentive, letting him instead offer his madness to Grace in a monologue that starts to sound a little staged toward the end of his speech.
Even more puzzling are Jack’s forays in Thailand to satisfy his darker thoughts, which are never fully explored for readers. It’s clear Jack wants to witness the unnatural. Paris never shares what exactly that means or how he goes about it. Readers will probably shrug and keep turning pages, knowing what to expect in the end and wanting to know instead how Paris accomplishes the inevitable.
The biggest disappointment comes in Grace herself. As a buyer for British store Harrod’s, Grace has traveled the world and most likely dealt with all sorts of people in her job. How could she possibly miss the clear warning signs about Jack that most women can read about these days in any magazine? Even more implausibly, how does she allow Jack to dupe her time and again into staying? Shouldn’t she know better by the third or fourth time he lashes out at her?
The book will compel casual readers to keep plowing through pages, and Paris should be commended for allowing Millie, Grace’s sister, to drive part of the plot. The book by nature of its genre will draw some readers in. For these reasons I rate Behind Closed Doors as Bordering on Bypass it.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)