Grace and Jack are the perfect couple. He’s a lawyer who defends abused wives, and looks like George Clooney to boot. She is his beautiful devoted wife, who cooks up the most wonderful dinner parties, enjoys painting and keeps a gorgeous house. The two are devoted to Grace’s beloved sister Millie, who has Downs Syndrome. Jack has spared no expense to give Millie the perfect bedroom painted in her favourite colour red.
Right from the start, the reader knows that that this is not the reality of their marriage. We know that Grace is scared stiff of her husband – she almost makes herself sick with worry over a dinner party and is terrified of saying the wrong thing in front of anybody else. She doesn’t have a mobile, and never answers the house phone. She always declines social engagements even though she doesn’t work. We know that she is a prisoner. What I did not seeing coming however was the extent of Jack’s twisted sadism.
The story jumps back and forth from past to present, so we too meet the sweet and caring man that Grace falls in love with – and even with the benefit of hindsight that he doesn’t turn out to be the man of her dreams, I was startled by the revelation of his end-game. I found myself holding my breath, again and again, as Grace attempts everything to outwit and escape her husband, only to find that he’s several steps ahead of her.
Behind Closed Doors felt to me almost the modern equivalent of a man locking his wife up in an asylum so he can claim her fortune. With Jack hiding behind the veneer of respectable man who abhors violence against women, and subtly calling into question her sanity, Grace can’t rely on anyone for help – only herself.
This was a cracking debut, and I look forward to reading more from BA Paris. A cleverly plotted, pacey and tense thriller, which had me reading until the early hours.
Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris is published 11th February by Mira Books