Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Target Age Group: Adult
*Review contains spoilers
“I can’t help thinking it’s a shame he’s such a sadistic bastard, because he has wonderful manners.”
Jack and Grace seem like the perfect couple. But there is more than meets the eye for this marriage. Grace is the perfect host to dinner guests and never says the wrong thing. But she had to learn to be perfect because when she made a mistake, it was costly. Grace has a younger teenage sister who happens to have Down Syndrome. She deeply loves and cares for Millie and so does Jack, but for a twisted reason.
Before marriage, Jack presents himself as a wonderful man who embraces Grace and her sister. As soon as the wedding is over (literally), his true colors come out. He reveals to Grace (after manipulating her into his prisoner) in Thailand that he is sadistic and gets off on other people’s fear. He picked Grace because she had a sister who could easily be scared.
Through out the story, we see Jack break down Grace’s resolve to escape after punishing her when she fails to succeed. Millie is aware of Jack being a piece of shit because he pushed Millie down the stairs to prevent her from being in their wedding. She cleverly gives Grace sleeping pills in order for Grace to kill him,
Eventually, she sees the opportunity and follows through with murdering Jack (out of self preservation of course). She has to stage it to look like a suicide because of the story Jack wove for the public eye over the 15 months they were married. We assume Grace gets away with it and lives happily ever after.
I love a juicy story about a marriage in crisis. When I saw “Behind Closed Doors,” the title alone told me all I needed to know. I bought it and put it on my shelf to read at some point in the future. The reason it made it (unplanned) on my February TBR, is because it was the only book I could find available on audiobook through Libby.
You see, I listen to audiobooks on my commute to work. Earlier this week I was standing at the front door with my coat on, work bag slung over my shoulder, ready to head to the car, when I remembered I didn’t pick an audiobook since I finished my last one! I quickly scanned my shelves and searched Libby with nothing on the top of the TBR pile being available. But Behind Closed Doors was there ready to be checked out. So I took the plunge.
Despite the very mediocre reviews, I was still hopeful because it not unusual for me to love a book that people hated or to hate a book a lot of people loved. But, as you can see from my rating, it left much to be desired.
The plot was not what I was expecting. I was thinking it was an abusive husband and a wife who tried to figure out how to leave the relationship. It was kinda like that but way more extreme. Once it was clear that Grace was being held against her will by an extremely weird and sadistic man, I was waiting for the big climax but it just kind of fizzled out for me.
The chapters alternate between past and present, ultimately bringing the two just hours apart. In the early stages of the book the “past” parts lacked suspense because the reader obviously knows she never escapes, which leads them to easily guess that she will escape in the end. BUT HOW? Well, sleeping pills is how. Since the book was nearing the end, it is clear she will get away with it.
It was very frustrating to know that Grace couldn’t talk to anyone about what really happened even though it was clear that Edith knew something was wrong. In the end, there was a mutual understanding that Edith’s hunch was right but THATS IT. We don’t see Millie again and we don’t know if Grace ever gets over this traumatizing event in her life. I felt like a lot was left for the reader to deal with.
Jack’s character wasn’t that believable. What was he really doing in Thailand? We never find out. He doesn’t physically hurt Grace which is also hard to believe since he murdered his own mother and said he enjoys power and fear. Yes, he tortured her mentally but there seems to be more to him than just that. I believe he is an evil man by other actions but I just expected more in depth character development of such a core part of the story.
In the end, Jack’s death wasn’t good enough for me to feel vindicated for Grace. I wanted him to be caught by Edith and brought to justice. I wanted to see him sweat and realize he wasn’t as clever as he thought he was. Jack got off too easy in my opinion.
Overall, I like the concept but not the execution.