Book review: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

Saturday, February 29, 2020 Permalink

Every so often a book comes along in which you hate ALL of the characters and don’t really care if they live or die.

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough was that book for me.

Don’t get me wrong. The story itself is kinda interesting, and the characters complex. But they weren’t likeable. At all.

Book review: Dead to Her by Sarah PinboroughDead to Her
by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Harper Collins
on 11/02/2020
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: B07Z7674KG, 9780008389482
Pages: 400

When Marcie met Jason Maddox, she couldn't believe her luck. Becoming Jason's second wife catapulted her into the elite world of high society. But underneath the polite, old money manners, she knows she'll always be an outsider, and her hard-won life hangs by a thread.

Then Jason's widowed boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, beautiful, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Jason.

Marcie refuses to be replaced so easily. People would kill for her life of luxury. What will Marcie do to keep it?

I actually cared so little about the characters that at one point I thought about shelving the book. Though by then Pinsborough had me a little hooked… wondering what was going to happen. Who was going to die and at whose hand. Cos – quite frankly – with so many unlikeable characters any one of them could have met with a grisly fate.

We’re predominantly in the heads of the two second wives… Marcie and newcomer Keisha. Marcie tells us that – once upon a time… as she stole him away from his then wife – she loved her husband. Keisha, on the other hand, is forty years younger than William’s first wife (beloved by the group) and makes little effort to pretend that she feels much for the elderly widower at all. Indeed, when she’s narrating her chapters – the events of now and reflecting on her past – she makes it very very obvious she’s just hanging out for her elderly ‘Billy’ to die.

I’d like to say it doesn’t seem feasible that this astute man supposedly whimsically married someone half a century or so his junior but apparently he was smitten. Or something. Thank god for viagra. He thinks. His new wife, less so.

In some ways Pinborough throws a bit of everything in here and I’m not sure the ingredients ultimately work. Keisha’s background, her family and voodooism mixed in with sex-capades and corporate wheeling and dealing all became a bit too much at one point.

I should mention that Pinborough does take a couple of surprising turns when I expected the narrative (at times) to be far more predictable. And the ultimate ‘death’ (referred to on the cover, so not a spoiler) – though it comes very late in the book – is not what I expected.

I felt there was a strong sense of cynicism and distaste underlying Pinborough’s portrayal of the men and women of ‘the South’. I’m not particularly sure she liked any of her characters either and there’s a very real sense of disdain for everything they stand for, from their business dealings, lifestyle and charity work.

I’d read Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes after it was released in 2017, having heard a lot of great things about it. Looking back on my review now, I see I’ve raised similar things there, regarding likability of characters and the (odd) direction the book takes.

I’ve also noted however, that it’s twisty at the end and – in both cases – I’ve wanted to keep reading, needing to know whodunit. (And why!)

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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