Review: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Hardcover: William Morrow | Audiobook: HarperAudio (February 11, 2020)
Length: Hardcover: 352 pages | Audiobook: 11 hrs and 31 mins
Featuring old money, jealous wives, and spiritual voodoo, Dead to Her has all the ingredients of a sultry modern southern gothic mystery, and Sarah Pinborough just kills it—no pun intended.
Marcie Maddox went from greasy diner waitress living in an Idaho trailer park to becoming the wife of one of Atlanta, Georgia’s most prominent businessmen. Now she resides in a luxurious mansion, dines on fancy food at country clubs, and attends parties on million-dollar yachts. But of course, this all happened because she was having an illicit affair with Jason, now her husband, who had then divorced his first wife in order to marry Marcie. Because of this, Marcie has never managed to shake the paranoia even after their marriage, knowing all too well the tendency for Jason’s eye to wander. After all, she had been “the other woman” in his previous relationship, and as they say, “Once a cheat, always a cheat.”
Pretty soon, all of Marcie’s worst fears are realized when Jason’s best friend and boss, wealthy widower William Radford IV returns home from an extended trip to London with a stunning and sexy new wife on his arm. Young, black, and drop-dead gorgeous, Keisha immediately charms everyone in their social circle with her vivacious personality and larger-than-life presence—including Jason. But even as she feels her husband slipping away from her, Marcie can’t help but be drawn into Keisha’s orbit herself. In doing so, she discovers that the young Englishwoman might not be as carefree as she seems, haunted by her own demons and dark secrets from her past.
While I had a lot of fun with Dead to Her, let’s begin this review with a few warnings. First of all, be prepared to despise everyone in this novel. The husbands in this story are completely devoid of redeeming qualities, as both Jason and William are domineering, insensitive and pathetic blowhards who never take responsibility for their own actions and treat their wives as nothing more than a household ornament. But before you feel too bad for Marcie and Keisha, the two of them aren’t exactly angels either, being completely ruthless, duplicitous and conniving. Oh, but what a storm of good, scandalous entertainment all of them together made. It’s never a dull moment with these four, and besides, I often find that toxic marriages and deeply unlikeable characters make for scrumptiously exciting domestic thrillers.
Anyway, I don’t want to talk too much about plot details, but the second thing you should know is that there is an element of the supernatural here—just a slight touch, nothing too pronounced. But if wanting more of a speculative component or preferring none at all in your mysteries/thrillers is an issue, that’s perhaps something to keep in mind. I also thought that some of the story’s handling of the black magic and voodoo involved was a bit messy, but I suspect this might have been a result of Pinborough attempting to throw her readers off-course or keep us guessing. Admittedly, this novel doesn’t really feel as well put together as some of her previous thrillers, with some pacing issues near the beginning and the middle, though to be fair, nothing really kept me from wanting to devour it as fast as possible either.
That said, the book’s strongest moments were undoubtedly all in its second half, which made it easier to understand why the author spent so much time setting up the story in the first half. This is where you’d best hope you were paying attention, because a lot of the clues dropped earlier come back into play in a big way. If I had to level some criticism at the ending, however, I would say that perhaps the conclusions might have been a bit rushed and there were still a few questions left over when all was said and done. A lot of knowledge is also kept from us until it’s dropped on our heads very late in the game, so on some level it might lead to some readers feeling cheated. Personally speaking though, I didn’t feel any of these were dealbreakers.
Bottom line, plenty of twists and surprises abound, the interest never wanes, and Sarah Pinborough’s writing is as superb and gripping as always in Dead to Her. I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of her work, especially her highly inventive, insanely addictive thrillers like this one. I very much hope she’ll keep ‘em coming.