Cross Her Hearts is a top-notch mystery and psychological thriller that is reconfigured into a confounding puzzle made that much more complex by the fact that Lisa is a troubled character with a dubious past who is not easy to believe. Nevertheless, you cannot help but be moved by her plight to save her daughter --- a high price to pay for someone just seeking to outrun her past. Sarah Pinborough has another hit on her hands and should be included on any shortlist of today’s top thriller writers.
...Sixty pages in, Cross Her Heart still feels less like a thriller than like one of those books with a drearily earnest set of reader’s guide questions at the end: 'What did you think of Lisa’s choices? Do you think Lisa and Ava have more in common than they realize?' But stick with it, because when Pinborough unveils her first surprise about a third of the way in, it’s a good one, so good that even the legally mandated device that kicks in with it — chapters headed 'Now,' 'After' and 'Before' — doesn’t slow her novel’s momentum ... The mechanics aren’t deftly concealed here, but the machine itself works, motoring toward about five different endings. Cross Her Heart also has a welcome sisterhood-is-powerful vibe; it’s a novel that defines women by their relationships with one another, even as their creator is ruthlessly shoving them into position for the next twist.
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough is a chilling psychological thriller about a dedicated single mom, her restless teenage daughter, and her troubled friends—about the secrets they hide, and the pasts they can’t escape ... Pinborough is a very versatile writer, and she uses her considerable horror chops to build a sense of low, creeping dread while she cleverly throws out the breadcrumbs that lead to the shocking truth. Nothing is quite what it seems, and Lisa’s desire to be something else, something better, is a relatable one—even if most of us (hopefully) don’t have the kind of past that she does. If you haven’t discovered this super talented author yet, this razor-sharp tale of obsession and murder is a great place to start.
Pinborough is back, throwing down the domestic-suspense gauntlet with this tension-driven page-turner ... a satisfying counterpart to the 'girl' thrillers, Cross Her Heart is unapologetically feminist, driven by the strong relationships between women, for better or worse. This will be an easy sell for fans of all domestic suspense, but you should especially target fans of Liane Moriarty and Megan Abbott.
On the surface, all three women fulfill the roles expected of them, and they support and love one another, but they don’t truly know each other. Ava, a competitive swimmer, is finishing up her exams and sneaking around with her first boyfriend while overly protective mom Lisa is about to clinch a big contract at work—and maybe even go on a date with a handsome millionaire client ... Soon, however, they will discover that someone else in their lives has a secret much darker than any they carry. This person is a murderer who is stalking a childhood friend who, they believe, betrayed their deepest trust ... Pinborough weaves several different time periods and several different narrative voices to create layers of character and conflict, but the characters are types often found in psychological thrillers, and while their problems are often relatable, at least at first, they aren’t particularly engaging ... Fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins will find this comfortingly familiar despite (or maybe because of?) the shocks and turns along the way.
Plot twists take precedence over psychological depth in this uninspired thriller from British author Pinborough ... By pulling more than one plot punch, Pinborough weakens the impact of a story line that lacks the originality of her best work, the Thomas Bond novels.