Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.
Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?
And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?
The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
I’ve always had “genre phases”. I would start reading a certain type of books and wouldn’t stop for weeks or months, until my brain is suffocated by that genre till I’m finally ready to move to something else. Lately, I noticed that I’m craving for psychological thrillers and my shelves slowly started gathering such kind of books.
I picked up Behind Closed Doors running through an airport, almost impulsively, barely reading the synopsis from the last cover and devoured the first half of the book during my flight. I kind of loved it, but there are some things that kept bugging me, although I find it pretty difficult to identify them clearly.
From the first pages (and obviously, from the synopsis), you realize that under the illusion of perfection, something is very, very wrong in the marriage of Jack and Grace. The author doesn’t let you wonder for too long, as she starts showing you the darkness that lies behind that perfect couple. You’re jumping with every chapter from the past to the present and both of them look just as terrible, without any traces of salvation, without any hopes of escaping. There’s not a single moment when you can relax and not feel ice flowing through your veins, never knowing what to expect, always assuming something even worse is going to happen.
Despite the satisfaction that I felt while reading it, I got a sense of disturbance, something kept bothering me. I feel like the story was built on a successful recipe without adding any extra flavors to it. Yes, the characters have a background that would explain why their personalities got so twisted. Yes, there is an aftermath that you’re even scared to think about. Yes, the suspense is on its highest. But all of these elements seem somehow shallow, like there’s too little substance to sustain the storyline properly. There are some moments that make no sense, there’s no explanation nor logic behind some of the actions that the main characters do.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a good book. If this is what you are looking for (and I definitely was!), the story will keep you entertained, holding your breath, waiting for the next move and knowing that every moment passing will throw the heroine even deeper in despair and further from salvation. But for me, the novel didn’t make me step in the characters’ shoes, didn’t transfer me to their world. Perhaps it will be different for you but personally, I couldn’t stop feeling the whole time that it’s just a story. A good one, yes, but… just a story.