‘Behind Closed Doors’ is gripping domestic thriller

Associated Press

“Behind Closed Doors”

by B.A. Paris

(St. Martin’s Press)

The domestic thriller genre is based on a simple theme — sometimes the worst terror comes not from strangers but from those closest to us. That premise receives a gripping workout in B.A. Paris’ terrifying and often realistic debut. “Behind Closed Doors,” a best-seller last year in the United Kingdom, is now receiving its U.S. launch.

Grace Harrington expected a happily-ever-after ending when she married successful, charming and handsome Jack Angel after a whirlwind romance. Besides, they aren’t the only couple who decided to wed a few months after they met, nor are they the only ones who married without having first slept together. Jack seems perfect, especially because he genuinely seems to care about Grace’s 17-year-old sister, Millie, who has Down syndrome.

But Grace discovers on their wedding night that Jack is only interested in the facade of perfection that his new wife brings to the marriage. By day, she is a virtual prisoner in her bedroom in the couple’s pristine mansion in Spring Eaton, England. Grace knows she has to obey Jack’s every demand and keep up appearances, especially when they have guests for dinner.

“Behind Closed Doors” alternates between the couple’s past and present, showing how relentless intimidation has affected Grace. Once a bright, independent executive whose job took her around the world, she is soon reduced to timidity. Jack has made it clear that he will hunt her down and harm Millie if Grace leaves him.

Jack’s constant haranguing sometimes makes him resemble a villain from a melodrama who has come looking for the rent. One expects the cape and moustache to appear at any moment. Still, the sense of believably and terror that engulfs “Behind Closed Doors” doesn’t waver.

— Oline H. Cogdill

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