HarperCollins | 2018 (17 May) | 384p | Review copy | Buy the book
Ava knows that her mum, Lisa, loves her but sometimes she wishes she weren’t so overprotective. Ava’s at that age now. She’s 16 years old. She’s got good friends, a boyfriend, and the chance of something even more exciting due to some tantalising messages on her Facebook. Mind you, it also seems that things are looking up for Lisa as well. Her job’s going well, she’s got such a good friend in her colleague Marilyn, and she’s seriously thinking of accepting an offer of a date from one of her business’s clients. But there’s something niggling away in Lisa’s mind. There’s something not quite right, things possibly being moved, strange song dedications on the radio, and more besides. Lisa doesn’t want to worry but every single bone in her body tells her she should be terrified.
And that is all you’ll hear from me about what goes on plotwise within this compelling and richly layered thriller. Sarah Pinborough is such a clever and original writer, with an imagination that challenges everything that we expect from a psychological thriller, and she’s done the same with other genres in the past. You never quite know what you’re going to get but there is one certainty – it will be make you stop in your tracks. And it will make your jaw drop. Not just once but time after time. And that’s just what happens in Cross Her Heart.
The characters created here are fascinating and each of them has their own story and we keep an eye on more than one of them at a time. The narrative moves between three voices in particular but there are multiple characters who move through, some just turning up unannounced and demanding our attention as we work out where and how they’re going to fit in.
I must admit to having one issue with Cross Her Heart but it’s a personal one. There were some brief sections that were too painful for me to read. They tore into my heart and I just couldn’t deal with them. This is testament to the power of the author’s writing and the strength of the feeling that she conveys. Other readers made of sterner stuff will be fine, I’m sure.
I had the floor swept out from under my feet a couple of times during my reading of Cross Her Heart. The plot is extraordinary. Behind Her Eyes was such a clever and original psychological thriller and Sarah Pinborough has challenged it in completely different and fresh ways. She knows how to grab our attention and I’m in awe of how she manages it, with every book she writes whatever its genre. No genre can hold Sarah Pinborough back. She conquers them all.