Book Review: Behind Closed Doors [by B.A. Paris]

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I didn’t really intend to read this, and I have no idea why I did. I was going through the Goodreads Choice nominees for the year and I remembered having seen this book before. And then I ended up reading it, just out of curiosity. I don’t know why I was so curious, because as soon as you read the synopsis it’s pretty obvious what you’re going to be dealing with. Spoiler warning ahead, even though this is pretty much what’s on the dustjacket.

So Jack and Grace seem like the Perfect Couple to all their friends, which apparently means he’s a high-profile lawyer who’s so attractive he draws glances even while walking in the park (seriously?) and she’s an amazing chef and a homemaker. They live in a gorgeous house, they’re well-off, and they’re very much devoted to each other. But there’s something too perfect about them, and they’re practically joined at the hip. Grace never meets anyone alone, if at all. So, as the dustjacket puts it, ‘The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?’

The summary has something of a TV-drama quality to it (particularly that last line – I put it in so you’d get the point) and it probably gives away more than it should, but in reality, there’s very little to hide. I don’t really have much to say about this book, except that I suspect there are many others like it – probably not as popular somehow.

The story is narrated in a perfectly ordinary way, one word after another, no unique style, and far more telling than showing (in the first person). There are consistent back-and-forth time jumps which are easy to keep up with. The actual mystery is not what but what now? B. A. Paris did manage to hold my attention till the end, but I was also aware that I could’ve stopped at any time and not really lost out.

I don’t really know what to say about the characters – this isn’t really much of a review is it? The novel, for me, was just so mediocre. And Paris was far more concerned with narrative, moving the story forward, than with character development.

I’m not sure how I feel about her concept of abuse in the book – although I wouldn’t extrapolate that that was her general opinion, obviously. But the character she chose to create was extreme and psychotic; it’s far more scary to me that there are millions of people across the globe who suffer abuse at the hands of people who are much more (for lack of a better term) ordinary. Of course, a lot of novels are about extreme situations and extreme people – crime thrillers in particular, I suppose – so I suppose this really isn’t a problem.

The only bit I was really impressed with was the ending – or, rather, the final dialogues. Somehow the whole novel lacked any kind of real quality to me, Paris just didn’t capture any interest with her writing style. She was writing sinister people and horrible scenarios in a totally average way. I think the last few lines packed more of a punch than the whole novel put together.

Honestly, if you’ve read the synopsis, you’ve pretty much got the gist. Unless you’re just a little too curious (like me), you’re probably not missing much that google can’t fill in for you.

Apologies for the mediocre review (who am I to criticise, again?), maybe I’ll get better.

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