Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes

by Sarah Pinborough


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“You should read Behind Her Eyes…It’s bloody brilliant.” Stephen King

"An eerie thriller…Pinborough keeps us guessing about just who’s manipulating whom – until the ending reveals that we’ve been wholly complicit in this terrifying mind game.” —The New York Times Book Review

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes?

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.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

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.

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.

“Deserves its own warning label…Avoid any contact with the growing buzz concerning the novel’s ingenious, to-die-for twist.” BookPage

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250111197
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 97,494
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Sarah Pinborough is the award-winning, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes and 13 Minutes. She lives in London.

Read an Excerpt

Behind Her Eyes

By Sarah Pinborough

Flatiron Books

Copyright © 2017 Sarah Pinborough
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-11118-0



Pinch myself and say I AM AWAKE once an hour. Look at my hands. Count my fingers. Look at clock (or watch), look away, look back. Stay calm and focused. Think of a door.



It was nearly light when it was finally done. A streaky gray wash across the canvas of sky. Dry leaves and mud clung to his jeans, and his weak body ached as his sweat cooled in the damp, chill air. A thing had been done that could not be undone. A terrible necessary act. An ending and a beginning now knotted up forever. He expected the hues of the world to change to reflect that, but the earth and heavens remained the same muted shades, and there was no tremble of anger from the trees. No weeping whisper of wind. No siren wailed in the distance. The woods were just the woods, and the dirt was just the dirt. He let out a long breath and it felt surprisingly good. Clean. A new dawn. A new day.

He walked in silence toward the remains of the house in the distance. He didn't look back.




There's still mud under my fingernails when David finally comes home. I can feel it stinging against my raw skin, deep under the beds. My stomach twists, wringing fresh nerves out as the front door shuts, and for a moment we just look at each other from opposite ends of the long corridor of our new Victorian house, a tract of perfectly polished wood between us, before he turns, swaying slightly, toward the sitting room. I take a deep breath and join him, flinching at each of the hard beats of my heels against the floorboards. I must not be afraid. I need to repair this. We need to repair this.

"I've cooked dinner," I say, trying not to sound too needy. "Only a stroganoff. It can keep until tomorrow if you've already eaten."

He's facing away from me, staring at our bookshelves that the unpackers have filled from the boxes. I try not to think about how long he's been gone. I've cleaned up the broken glass, swept and scrubbed the floor, and dealt with the garden. All evidence of earlier rage has been removed. I rinsed my mouth out after every glass of wine I drank in his absence so he won't smell it on me. He doesn't like me to drink. Only ever a glass or two in company. Never alone. But tonight I couldn't help it.

Even if I haven't entirely got the dirt out from under my nails, I've showered and changed into a powder-blue dress and matching heels and put makeup on. No trace of tears and fighting. I want us to wash it all away. This is our fresh start. Our new beginning. It has to be.

"I'm not hungry." He turns to face me then, and I can see a quiet loathing in his eyes and I bite back a sudden urge to cry. I think this emptiness is worse than his anger. Everything I've worked so hard to build really is crumbling. I don't care that he's drunk again. I only want him to love me like he used to. He doesn't even notice the effort I've made since he stormed out. How busy I've been. How I look. How I've tried.

"I'm going to bed," he says. He doesn't meet my eyes and I know that he means the spare room. Two days into our fresh start, and he won't be sleeping with me. I feel the cracks between us widen once more. Soon we won't be able to reach each other across them. He walks carefully around me and I want to touch his arm but am too afraid of how he will react. He seems disgusted by me. Or perhaps it's his disgust at himself radiating in my direction.

"I love you," I say softly. I hate myself for it and he doesn't answer but unsteadily clambers up the stairs as if I'm not there. I hear his footsteps recede and then a door closing.

After a moment of staring at the space where he no longer is, listening to my patchwork heart breaking, I go back to the kitchen and turn the oven off. I won't keep it for tomorrow. It would taste sour on the memory of today. Dinner's ruined. We're ruined. I sometimes wonder if he wants to kill me and be done with it all. Get rid of the albatross around his neck. Perhaps some part of me wants to kill him, too.

I'm tempted to have another glass of forbidden wine, but I resist. I'm tearful enough already and I can't face another fight. Perhaps in the morning we'll be fine again. I'll replace the bottle and he'll never know I've been drinking at all.

I gaze out into the garden before finally flicking the outside lights off and facing my reflection in the window. I'm a beautiful woman. I look after myself. Why can't he still love me? Why can't our life have been as I'd hoped, as I'd wanted, after everything I've done for him? We have plenty of money. He has the career he dreamed of. I have only ever tried to be the perfect wife and give him the perfect life. Why can't he let the past go?

I allow myself a few minutes' more self-pity as I wipe down and polish the granite surfaces, and then I take a deep breath and pull myself together. I need to sleep. To properly sleep. I'll take a pill and knock myself out. Tomorrow will be different. It has to be. I'll forgive him. I always do.

I love my husband. I have since the moment I set eyes on him, and I will never fall out of love with him. I won't give that up. I can't.



No names, okay? No jobs. No dull life talk. Let's talk about real things.

"You really said that?"

"Yes. Well, no," I say. "He did."

My face burns. It sounded romantic at four thirty in the afternoon two days ago with the first illicit negroni, but now it's like something from a cheap tragi-romcom. Thirty-four-year-old woman walks into a bar and is sweet-talked by the man of her dreams, who turns out to be her new boss. Oh god, I want to die from the awfulness of it all. What a mess.

"Of course he did." Sophie laughs and immediately tries to stop herself. "No dull life talk. Like, oh, I don't know, the small fact I'm married." She sees my face. "Sorry. I know it's not technically funny, but it sort of is. And I know you're out of practice with the whole men thing, but how could you not have known from that he was married? The new boss bit I'll let you off with. That is simply bloody bad luck."

"It's really not funny," I say, but I smile. "Anyway, married men are your forte, not mine."


I knew Sophie would make me feel better. We are funny together. We laugh. She's an actress by trade — although we never discuss how she hasn't worked outside of two TV corpses in years — and, despite her affairs, has been married to a music exec forever. We met at our NCT classes, and although our lives are very different, we bonded. Seven years on and we're still drinking wine.

"But now you're like me," she says, with a cheery wink. "Sleeping with a married man. I feel less bad about myself already."

"I didn't sleep with him. And I didn't know he was married." That last part isn't quite true. By the end of the night, I'd had a pretty good idea. The urgent press of his body against mine as we kissed, our heads spinning from gin. The sudden break away. The guilt in his eyes. The apology. I can't do this. All the tells were there.

"Okay, Snow White. I'm just excited that you nearly got laid. How long's it been now?"

"I really don't want to think about that. Depressing me further won't help with my current predicament," I say, before drinking more of my wine. I need another cigarette. Adam is tucked up and fast asleep and won't move until breakfast and school. I can relax. He doesn't have nightmares. He doesn't sleepwalk. Thank god for small mercies.

"And this is all Michaela's fault anyway," I continue. "If she'd canceled before I got there, none of this would have happened."

Sophie's got a point, though. It's been a long time since I've even flirted with a man, let alone got drunk and kissed one. Her life is different. Always surrounded by new and interesting people. Creative types who live more freely, drink until late, and behave like teenagers. Being a single mum in London eking out a living as a psychiatrist's part-time secretary doesn't exactly give me a huge amount of opportunities to throw caution to the wind and go out every night in the hope of meeting anyone, let alone "Mr. Right," and I can't face Tinder or Match or any of those other sites. I've kind of got used to being on my own. Putting all that on hold for a while. A while that is turning into an inadvertent lifestyle choice.

"This will cheer you up." She pulls a joint out of the top pocket of her red corduroy jacket. "Trust me, you'll find everything funnier once we're baked." She sees the reluctance on my face and grins. "Come on, Lou. It's a special occasion. You've excelled yourself. Snogged your new married boss. This is genius. I should get someone to write the film. I could play you."

"Good," I say. "I'll need the money when I'm fired." I can't fight Sophie, and I don't want to, and soon we're sitting out on the small balcony of my tiny flat, wine, crisps, and cigarettes at our feet, passing the weed between us, giggling.

Unlike Sophie, who somehow remains half-teenager, getting high is not in any way part of my normal routine — there isn't the time or the money when you're on your own — but laughter beats crying any time and I suck in a lungful of sweet, forbidden smoke.

"It could only happen to you," she says. "You hid?"

I nod, smiling at the comedy of the memory imagined through someone else's eyes. "I couldn't think of anything else to do. I dove into the toilet and stayed there. When I came out, he'd gone. He doesn't start until tomorrow. He was getting the full tour from Dr. Sykes."

"With his wife."

"Yep, with his wife." I remember how good they looked together in that brief, awful moment of realization. A beautiful couple.

"How long did you stay in the toilet for?"

"Twenty minutes."

"Oh, Lou."

There's a pause and then we both have the giggles, wine and weed buzzing our heads, and for a little while we can't stop.

"I wish I could have seen your face," Sophie says.

"Yeah, well, I'm not looking forward to seeing his face when he sees my face."

Sophie shrugs. "He's the married one. It's his shame. He can't say anything to you."

She absolves me of my guilt, but I can still feel it clinging along with the shock. The gut punch of the woman I'd glimpsed by his side before I dashed into hiding. His beautiful wife. Elegant. Dark-haired and olive-skinned in an Angelina Jolie way. That kind of mystery about her. Exceptionally slim. The opposite of me. The snapshot of her is burned into my brain. I couldn't imagine her ever panicking and hiding in a toilet from anyone. It stung in a way it shouldn't have, not after one drunken afternoon, and not only because my confidence has reached rock bottom.

The thing is, I'd liked him — really liked him. I can't tell Sophie about that. How I hadn't talked to anyone like that in a long time. How happy I'd felt to be flirting with someone who was flirting back, and how I'd forgotten how great that excitement of something potentially new was. My life is, as a rule, a blur of endless routine. I get Adam up and get him to school. If I'm working and want to get in early, he goes to breakfast club. If I'm not working, I may spend an hour or so browsing charity shops for designer castoffs that will fit the clinic's subtly expensive look. Then it's just cooking, cleaning, shopping until Adam comes home and then it's homework, tea, bath, story, bed for him, and wine and bad sleep for me. When he goes to his dad's for a weekend I'm too tired to do anything much other than lie in and then watch crap TV. The idea that this could be my life until Adam's at least fifteen or so quietly terrifies me so I don't think about it. But then meeting the-man-in-the-bar made me remember how good it was to feel something. As a woman. It made me feel alive. I'd even thought about going back to that bar and seeing if he'd turned up to find me. But, of course, life isn't a romcom. And he's married. And I've been an idiot. I'm not bitter, merely sad. I can't tell Sophie any of these things because then she'd feel sorry for me and I don't want that and it's just easier to find it all funny. It is funny. And it's not like I sit at home bemoaning my singledom every night, as if no one could ever be complete without a man. In the main, I'm pretty happy. I'm a grown-up. I could have it way worse. This was one mistake. I have to deal with it.

I scoop up a handful of Doritos and Sophie does the same.

"Curves are the new thin," we say in unison, before cramming the crisps into our mouths and nearly choking as we laugh again. I think about me hiding in the toilet from him, full of panic and disbelief. It is funny. Everything is funny. It might be less funny tomorrow morning when I have to face the music, but for now I can laugh. If you can't laugh at your own fuck-ups, what can you laugh at?

"Why do you do it?" I say later when the bottle of wine is empty between us and the evening is drawing to a close. "Have affairs? Aren't you happy with Jay?"

"Of course I am," Sophie says. "I love him. It's not like I'm out doing it all the time."

This is probably true. She's an actress; she exaggerates for the sake of a story sometimes.

"But why do it at all?" Strangely, it's not something we've really talked about that much. She knows I'm uncomfortable with it, not because she does it — that's her business — but because I know and like Jay. He's good for her. Without him, she'd be screwed. As it were.

"I have a higher sex drive than he does," she says eventually. "And sex isn't what marriage is about anyway. It's about being with your best friend. Jay's my best friend. But we've been together fifteen years. Lust can't maintain itself. I mean, we still do it, sometimes, but it's not like it was. And having a child changes things. You spend so many years seeing each other as parents rather than lovers, it's hard to get that passion back."

I think back to my own short-lived marriage. The lust didn't die with us. But that didn't stop him leaving after four years to be with someone else when our son was barely two years old. Maybe she has a point. I don't think I ever saw my ex, Ian, as my best friend.

"It just seems a bit sad to me." And it does.

"That's because you believe in true love and happy ever after in a fairy-tale way. That's not how life is."

"Do you think he's ever cheated on you?" I ask.

"He's definitely had his flirtations," she says. "There was a singer he worked with a long time ago. I think maybe they had a thing for a while. But whatever it was, it didn't affect us. Not really."

She makes it sound so reasonable. All I can think of is the pain of betrayal I felt when Ian left. How what he did affected how I saw myself. How worthless I felt in those early days. How ugly. The short-lived romance he left me for didn't last either, but that didn't make me feel better.

"I don't think I'll ever understand it," I say.

"Everyone has secrets, Lou," she says. "Everyone should be allowed their secrets. You can never know everything about a person. You'd go mad trying to."

* * *

I wonder, after she's left and I'm cleaning up the debris of our evening, if maybe Jay was the one who cheated first. Maybe that's the secret at the heart of Sophie's hotel room trysts. Maybe it's all done to make herself feel better or to quietly get even. Who knows. I'm probably overthinking it. Overthinking is my specialty. Each to their own, I remind myself. She seems happy and that's good enough for me.

It's only a little past ten thirty, but I'm exhausted, and I peer in at Adam for a minute, a soothing comfort to be found in watching his peaceful sleep, curled up tiny on his side under his Star Wars duvet, Paddington tucked under one arm, and then close the door and leave him to it.

* * *

It's dark when I wake up in the bathroom, standing in front of the mirror, and before I've really registered where I am, I feel the sharp throb in my shin where I've walked into the small laundry box in the corner. My heart races and sweat clings to my hairline. As reality settles around me, the night terror shatters, leaving only fragments in my head. I know what it was, though. Always the same dream.

A vast building, like an old hospital or orphanage. Abandoned. Adam is trapped somewhere inside it, and I know, I just know, that if I can't get to him, then he's going to die. He's calling out for me, afraid. Something bad is coming for him. I'm running through corridors trying to reach him, and from the walls and ceilings, the shadows reach out in tendrils, as if they're part of some terrible evil alive in the building, and wrap themselves around me, trapping me. All I can hear is Adam crying as I try to escape the dark, sticky strands determined to keep me from him, to choke me and drag me into the endless darkness. It's a horrible dream. It clings to me like the shadows do in the nightmare itself. The details may change slightly from night to night, but the narrative is always the same. However many times I have it, I'll never get used to it.


Excerpted from Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. Copyright © 2017 Sarah Pinborough. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Behind Her Eyes: A Novel 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. A little slow in spots, but that totally unexpected ending blew me away!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did NOT see the end coming! I enjoyed this book and the author's excellent, intelligent writing, all the way through to the delicious ending.
Michelle_Palmer More than 1 year ago
At first I wasn't sure about this book. Another book with an unreliable female narrator about obsession *yawn* but boy was I wrong. This book took me on a roller coaster ride and I am thrilled to have finished it. One of the quotes on the cover of the ARC I read was "#WTFthatending" and as I neared the end I didn't see coming I though sure it was a bit twisty but then I read the VERY LAST CHAPTER and WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I REALLY did not see that coming. Going back through the story there are definitely clues along the way but WOW!!!!!!!!! Louise is a regularly 30ish divorced mother of a 6 year old who works in a psychiatrists office. She is in a bar one night and meets a man and they end up having a bit of a make-out session. The next day she discovers he is her boss. Later she "accidentally" runs into his wife Adele who is movie star gorgeous and seems to have it all together. They strike up a friendship. Adele is a bit off (understatement) but to say much more is to give things away that are better left unsaid. READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!! So good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great intriguing book until in the last pages psych thriller turns into Sci paranormal garbage
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really thought the book was good, then it started going down hill for me. It was worth the read, but I didn't love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it. Just do it. You might think you have it figured out but you probably don't. You literally will be thinking "what the eff" by part 3. Definitely recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a long time psych suspense reader I found this concept intriguing, the characters real and the book very enjoyable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You just wont see it coming. The bar kiss and the fishy love. It is just to much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was blindsided by the ending-best book I have read in years
Haziegaze More than 1 year ago
Well … how the heck am I going to review this! The description does not even come close to describing what this book is about and I can’t say much without giving away any spoilers so you will just have to trust me when I say that you will either love it, hate it or just sit there scratching your head wondering what the flippin’ heck just happened there!?! I finished reading this book quite some time ago (January 2017) and even now I can remember the story, the characters and the ending … I read a lot of books many of which I can’t recall the details with as much clarity as I can this one; that’s got to say something on it’s own hasn’t it? This book is quite unique and like nothing I have read before. I found it deliciously addictive with the slow buildup of tension and suspense with an unbelievable ending that will have you sitting there with you mouth open either saying “wow, that was brilliant” or “wow, that was ridiculous” (whichever takes your fancy); I for one thought it was great and couldn’t wait to tell people about it the next day … and I still am months later. Thank you to the publisher, HarperCollins UK, HarperCollins Fiction via NetGalley for the copy I received in return for an unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok...i dont get it! Dont bother...what a dud!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Great book!
tommygrrl723 5 months ago
Meh...This book seemed to have it the beginning. It really sucked me in, and I had a hard time putting the book down, all the while thinking: How is this going to end?!?!?!? Then... I guessed most of the ending about halfway through, and then at about the 3/4 mark, (I know that it is hard to believe) I guessed the actual ending. I wished that the author had stuck with the psychological thriller aspect of it, instead of transforming into another genre altogether, but I enjoyed the style of writing overall. It 'seemed like' and 'read like' a debut novel for me, in that, I felt like the author kind of 'lost her way' while writing and wandered her way through to the ending. (I know that it is a weird way of wording it, but that is how I feel). Anyway, this was the first book that I have read by this author, but I would consider trying another. Overall, not bad, but if you are looking for a TRUE psychological thriller (from beginning to end) try the book "Behind Closed Doors" by B.A. Paris. It isn't perfect, but it does stick to the genre, and (personally) I think it had a better ending than this book.
LorenB More than 1 year ago
A friend passed this book on to me a few months ago after she read the entire thing on her flight from Philly to L.A., and I’m so glad she did. It’s mysterious, dark, and suspenseful, and at the heart of it all is obsessive love. It is such a page-turner and not like any other story I've read before. All I wanted was to get to the end because I couldn’t figure out what that ending would be for Louise, David, and Adele. It wasn’t anything I saw coming. All I can say is “wow” and "bravo" to this new to me author for a story well told. I highly recommend this book to all readers of romantic suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book about two weeks ago and I cannot stop thinking about it. The ending shook me!!!! Did not see that coming. This is such a great book. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!! A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
COULD NOT put this book down! This is the first book I’ve read by Sarah Pinborough and now i want to check out her other work. A must-read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept my interest. The characters and storyline were very well developed. Just when I thought I had it figured out. Bam you hit me with the twist. Great read.
NancyLovesBooks More than 1 year ago
Tension woven from strong emotions, love, hate fear, and acts of deceit, manipulation, anger and secrets lots of secrets! There are hints and details left on the pages for us to take in and still probably be fooled! A love triangle you would never expect, who are these people, we learn who as things move forward! One seems weak but is she? One seems hard and deceitful, is he one seems to be a fairly normal kind of messed up, is she though? This book took ahold of my imagination! Even when I wasn't reading I was thinking about it. questions running through my head constantly. Then it happened at the end of chapter 54, as I turned the page to 55 I knew! I knew what was going to happen... was I right? I was and it was breathe taking! I was not disappointed! Pulled taut til the very end... I challenge you to take the ride , see if you can figure it all out!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
What a twisted mess! An enticing, ruthless mess that left me sitting in my garage listening to this audio as I couldn’t walk away. They belonged together, they righteously, belonged together yet they didn’t know how connected they were to one another. They were playing a game and each one of them was a token, someone to move around the board, the only question was, who was making the rules? I didn’t see where this novel was headed when I first started listening to it. David met Louise in a bar and before the night is over, they have gotten extremely close. Monday morning as she arrives at work, Louise runs into David, he is her new boss. Louise and David share some hushed remarks about the night that they were together. It should have never occurred as David already has a wife but they realize that it was the beginning of something and now, they need to keep things professional at work. While out, Louise runs into Adele who claims to be new in town and a friendship forms between the two women. No, it can’t be! Adele is David’s wife and she is up to something. It doesn’t end there though as Louise is not the dumb secretary Adele thinks she is. Louise’s story comes to light and I am all in. I can’t tear myself away from this novel! It’s entertaining to me but I fear what is coming. How long will this charade go on? Then I hear David’s words and I know that they belong together. They’re perfect for one another. It’s getting messy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really enjoyed this novel. I was debating between 4.5 and 5 stars - since this novel took me by surprise, I'll give it a 5.
NancyLovesBooks More than 1 year ago
Tension woven from strong emotions, love, hate fear, and acts of deceit, manipulation, anger and secrets lots of secrets! There are hints and details left on the pages for us to take in and still probably be fooled! A love triangle you would never expect, who are these people, we learn who as things move forward! One seems weak but is she? One seems hard and deceitful, is he one seems to be a fairly normal kind of messed up, is she though? This book took ahold of my imagination! Even when I wasn't reading I was thinking about it. questions running through my head constantly. Then it happened at the end of chapter 54, as I turned the page to 55 I knew! I knew what was going to happen... was I right? I was and it was breathe taking! I was not disappointed! Pulled taut til the very end... I challenge you to take the ride , see if you can figure it all out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great until the "second door" part. Surprising but silly ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely a new favorite novel. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Character development, unapplogetic macabre, pschoological dilemmas punctuate a tale of unassuming characters who will pull you in!