Cross Her Heart, by Sarah Pinborough

The story:

Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn. But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes. As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

From a reader’s point of view:

It’s yet again a new author for me, and it wasn’t as easy as I initially thought it would be to dive into this story or feel for its characters. This book is often reviewed as a “fast-paced, compulsive thriller,” but I found the first part to be everything but fast-paced, plus it reads more as a YA novel than a thriller with its friendship and sex topics, danger of social media, etc. It’s very possible, too, that I’ve been reading too many thrillers recently to fully appreciate Cross Her Heart.

That said, when the story finally shifted gears—a good quarter of the book in—I was all in and this realistic suspense of domestic violence kept me up a few nights…until the final twist which I thought was not only unnecessary but also hard to believe considering what we knew from the involved characters.

From a writer’s point of view:

Cross Her Heart is an intricate psychological thriller with a clever writing, moving between different time periods and perspectives—Lisa, Ava, Marilyn, and an unnamed character called Her.

That in itself is a super interesting idea as a writer, and it reminded me a little of The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty where Moriarty uses both the third-person limited for Ellen and the first-person narrative for the ex-girlfriend Saskia, thus keeping the suspense going and avoiding to reveal Saskia’s true identity—at least in the beginning, later on the first-person narrative has another role… But I digress.

Anyway, the secret narrator is perfect for the whodunnit manuscript you had in mind, if you did.

In 3 words?

Slow, fast, heavy.