Author of the Month

Name: Sarah Pinborough

First Novel: The Hidden (A Horror Story)

Most Recent Book: Behind Her Eyes

'...dark, disturbing, powerful and hypnotic. '

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David - the man from the bar. The very married man from the bar… who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

Then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. She also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

I only need one word to review ‘Behind Her Eyes’ by Sarah Pinborough - WOW! This book will stay with you for years to come. It's dark, disturbing, powerful and hypnotic.

The hype surrounding this book really is high. It's already being called the thriller of 2017 and the hashtag of #WTFthatending tells you you're reading something very special. Can anything live up to such high impact pre-publicity?

Yes it can. Never have I been so gripped by a novel so early on in the story. Told from the point of view of the two women in the love triangle, the chapters switch as we see both sides of the story. The tension is there from the opening chapter and pulls you into the lives of these three disparate characters.

I'm giving nothing away about the ending. I will say this - stop what you're doing, turn off your phone, cancel all plans and devour this book. It really is THAT good.

I was already a huge fan of Sarah Pinborough before I read this book. Now, I'm in absolute awe of her genius.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) Your books are very different - from young adult to period thrillers to dramas - do you purposely choose what genre you're going to write or do you allow the story to dictate?
I tend to like to blend genres rather than write firmly in one – but yes, I have jumped around a bit! It really depends on the idea and what mood I'm in at the time. My career would probably have been better served by picking one genre and sticking to it, but that's just not how my brain works. I am enjoying writing thrillers though, and I think every book I've written has that 'puzzle box' element in common.
2) All three main characters are incredibly well written. Do you base your characters on people you know or is it all your imagination?
Oh thank you! No, I never base them on people I know, but I do draw on people's experiences in the same way that all writers do. People's motivations are interesting. I did give Louise some of my traits (although I've given up my e-cig now) but in general she kind of embodies all the worries and insecurities women can feel about themselves and their place in the world, their attractiveness etc. Adele was more fun because she's so elusive. Louise is the woman we tend to be on the inside, Adele is who we desperately want to be on the outside. And David, well I wanted him to be attractive and yet mysterious. Hence he doesn't have a 'voice' per se in the novel.
3) This is a very character led story rather than plot. How important is characterisation over story for you? Who is your favourite character and why?
I used to be very plot driven – and I still am in a lot of ways, but it's characters that we care about and it's very much something I've focused on more after working in TV. When you're pitching for TV a lot more time is spent discussing the characters and what they want, who they are, their problems and allowing that to drive the plot to a certain extent. ‘The Death House’ (one of my YA novels) was the most character driven piece I've ever written and it was a great learning curve. In this book, I think Adele is my favourite, for reasons I can't really explain here!
4) There is a great deal of hype surrounding ‘Behind Her Eyes’. Are you nervous about how it will be received?
I'm not so worried about how it will go down with people because this being the age of the internet it's already got about 400 reviews on goodreads, and I know that the ending will divide people. But so far, I think I'm getting about a 90% on board hit rate so I'm happy. Plus, I'm really proud of the book and the story and that's all I can ask of myself. I can't control what other people think, and if everyone liked it, I wouldn't have done my job properly. But I will be pleased when it's out. It's been a long run up and my nerves are starting to fray – more about how much of a success it will or won't be. After ten years in this game, I take nothing for granted!
5) How far into writing the story did you come up with the massive twist at the end and what was your reaction to it?
Oh, I had the ending before I started. I don't think you could write a book like this without having the ending to work towards. I was in a pub when I had that 'what if?' moment and I actually got a shiver, then laughed, then ordered a glass of wine and considered it a day's work done. After I had the ending the rest just fell into place.
6) For writers who are just starting out on their ‘novel journey’, what one piece of advice would you give?
I hate writers giving advice because every journey is different, but my advice would be that it's a very long road and the key is not getting published, it's staying published. That's how careers are made.
7) Are you a fan of crime fiction in general? What would you say are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you and would take with you to a desert island?
Yes, I'm a crime fan! I think I would take Every Dead Thing - John Connolly. I adore that book and that series, and it was definitely an inspiration for my Dog-Faced Gods trilogy. The Secret History - Donna Tartt, because that is such a character driven slow burn thriller, and I love how it plays out. Hmmm… and as for a third… that's tricky. And cliché as it sounds, I probably would take Gone Girl because that novel kicked off a resurgence in this kind of Hitchcock-esque domestic thriller genre that I really love.

Author photo courtesy of Lou Abercrombie