Behind Closed Doors is a psychological suspense novel in the vein of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. It is the debut novel by B. A. Paris and is bound to keep people up at night. In August, all across America people will be nodding off at work and supervisors and co-workers will share compassionate glances, whispering to each other, “It is Behind Closed Doors again,” and everyone will forgive and during mid-morning break someone will go to the coffee shop and bring back a triple shot latte and a piece of coffee cake to restore them. But can anyone recover from this book?
When it opens, we meet Jack and Grace as they welcome their guests to a perfect dinner party. Jack is the perfect husband, Grace the perfect wife. She cooks a perfect meal in their perfect house and everyone admires their perfect marriage. It is all so damn perfect.
Not. The perfection hides a deep corruption at the center of their perfection. And so we come to the crucial question: can Grace escape all this perfection that hides one of the most evil psychopaths most readers will encounter.
OK, Jacks’s not Pol Pot, but then Pol Pot did not have Jack’s perfectly tailored suits. I am certain that while Jack would admire Pol Pot’s psychopathy, he would find him decidedly déclassé. Jack does psychopathy with style.
I am a bit ambivalent about Behind Closed Doors. As a psychological suspense novel, it is a great success. I read it quickly and disregarded sleep and food while reading it. I wanted Jack’s comeuppance with the fire of a thousand suns, or close to that amount, maybe only 980 suns. On the other hand, I always find these novels disturbing, that we live in a world where these things are conceivable and believable. This book reminds me of when I read Philip Margolin’s Gone, But Not Forgotten some 20 years ago and feeling slightly creeped out that I lived in the same city as the author that dreamt up that particular psychopath. There is comfort in a continent and an ocean separating me from B.A. Paris’ imagination and talent for scariness.
There are a few weaknesses that disturbed me. There’s an incident at Jack and Grace’s wedding that she does not understand until it is explained to her. As soon as it happened, I knew. I am not saying she should have known when it happened. That is unrealistic, but she should have know soon after and should never have needed her sister to explain it to her. I also thought the sister, who is cognitively disabled, was awfully clever for someone who speaks with her level of development. In fact, she’s smarter than Grace, if you ask me.
So yes, Behind Closed Doors is an engaging, suspenseful book that will keep you up at night. But it also will probably make you want a shower after you’re done and even possibly ask yourself what’s wrong with you, that you want to read about such evil. Which is why you will need that triple latte and that coffee cake and maybe even a hug.
Behind Closed Doors will be released August 9th. I received an ARC copy of the book from the publisher through a drawing publicized in the Shelf Awareness newsletter.