“Cross my heart and hope to die”
Genre: Fiction/Mystery and Thriller
Similar to: The Girl on the Train, The Lie, Dr. Foster
Could be enjoyed by: Fans of domestic thrillers (they all seem a bit samey to me but this one is written particularly well)
Publication date: 14 May 2018
I really enjoyed Sarah Pinborough’s last book “Behind Her Eyes” (#WTFthatending) so I was excited to see her latest offering. I’m pleased to report that this novel did not disappoint. I’m a weird way, these domestic thrillers are becoming a bit of a guilty pleasure – I love the way you can speed through them because you can’t wait to see what happens next (although the non-hubs is less appreciative when I’m still reading at 2am and he wants to go to sleep). I do find that the quality within this genre is pretty variable though, so I was relieved to find that Cross Her Heart was within the upper percentile of my personal bell curve of likeability.
Cross Her Heart is about a single mum, Lisa, living with her daughter Ava. They seem to have a pretty normal, happy relationship although Lisa can be a bit over protective. However, weird things start happening – familiar baby toys then up, a photo is smashed when the house is empty – and Lisa begins to panic. As she starts to link these instances together we learn more of her past until events conspire to make her history public. When the truth does out, it seems like the whole world turns against Lisa – just when she needs help the most.
Oh, and there’s obviously a dramatic ending that you definitely don’t see coming. Obviously.
The writing in this book is excellent, really pacey and consistent. One of my major bugbears is incongruous details – things that don’t quite add up or appear to be thrown in as a big obvious red herring and, happily, there’s none of that. As I mentioned, I’d previously read Behind Her Eyes (look, there’s a review and everything) and because of the way that book ended I couldn’t help thinking that there would be a similar theme. That took me off on a completely different – and entirely wrong – tangent (presumably deliberate) which I thought was a very subtle and very clever way of misleading your reader. Top marks, Ms Pinborough!
I really liked all of the main characters in this book and I loved how the different relationships were portrayed. Some of the mother/teenage daughter scenes were cringily reminiscent of my own adolescence, where I was also full of irrational rage and certain that I had the most overbearing mother in the world (I didn’t – sorry Mum). I also really like the female friendships and the way that the two female characters had each others backs no matter what. However, the thing that stood out for me was the way that domestic violence and coercive control was written about – I thought Sarah Pinborough did a brilliant job of showing such an accurate portrayal.
On the downside, there’s often a part of the storyline in thrillers where you have to suspend your disbelief for a second and I will say that I found the ending just a tiny, tiny bit unbelievable – although the author clearly recognises this and does her best to make it seem realistic. At least you won’t see it coming!
If you haven’t read this book, I would recommend that you read Behind Her Eyes first – they’re both completely stand alone novels but knowing how Sarah Pinborough writes really expanded my ideas about how her second book would end – and this absolutely added to the drama *happy face*.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Cross Her Heart. It’s never going to make it as classic fiction, but in a crowded marketplace this book ticks all the right boxes. I’m now a full on fan of Sarah Pinborough and can’t wait to see what she does next!
Rating: Four teenage temper tantrums out of five.
Pacey, addictive writing with realistic portrayals of women, female relationships and – amazingly – very little information about the size of their boobs. I mean, it was a struggle but I just about managed to picture the characters despite not knowing this vital information. Revelation!
Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks Netgalley!