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Large cast and clunky dialogue leaves thriller short on thrills

The Therapist - BA Paris


Psychological Thriller Fans rating - 68%

Genre: Psychological thriller with heavy whodunnit / closed circle mystery overtones

Premise: After Alice moves into a new home in a gated community in London, she discovers the previous owner was murdered in the house and her husband convicted of the killing. But Alice is convinced the real killer is still on the loose and suspicion falls on everyone in the close.

One of my favourite psychological thrillers of 2016 was BA Paris’ excellent Behind Closed Doors, a terrifying and chilling depiction of domestic abuse.

But I was hugely disappointed with The Dilemma that came out three years later which I found slow and completely devoid of the suspense and tension Paris had expertly woven into Behind Closed Doors.

So it was with mixed feelings that I started The Therapist after reading one reviewer comment the author was back to her best.

The premise of The Therapist is strong and the plot has huge potential but once again I was underwhelmed by how the story unfolded and the characters, with whom I had little empathy.

Although this is a psychological thriller, The Therapist leans heavily on the crime/detective genre with Alice acting as investigator trying to piece together what happened to Nina, the murdered previous owner of the house.

The thriller aspect of the story is that Alice’s life is clearly under threat from Nina’s killer as they leave tell-tale clues that they’ve been in the house watching her, particularly at night.

So why didn’t the book didn’t hit the mark for me?

Much of the action focuses on Alice either bumping into her neighbours around the gated community, popping in to have coffee with them or simply taking phone calls.

Until the ending scenes, that’s about the extent of the action.

In fact, there are far too many phone conversations in the book which I found repetitive as a narrative device.

There are also lots of under formed characters in the book as Paris lays out a large cast, essential in a whodunnit, but which left me struggling to keep track of who was who as they all had regular, common names (Tim, Eve, Lorna, Edward, Tamsin and so on) and not much background on each to ground them in my mind.

This wouldn’t have been a huge problem, but large sections of the novel are dedicated to Alice’s thought processes as she considers the actions and behaviours of all the neighbours and other characters.

This is where she lost me. Trying to keep track over several days of reading was difficult.

Another issue is with the dialogue which was clunky and unnatural in many places.

Much of it was ‘on the nose’ where characters say exactly what they mean, instead of speaking with nuance and subtle inference and meaning.

There were sections I felt that a decent line editor should have cleaned up, and considering the book is published by HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins, I was disappointed the editing hadn’t been more judicious.

That said, this isn’t by any means a disaster of a book.

The plot and story are strong and it will appeal to fans of BA Paris, I’m sure.

However, I think it could have been better, and I’d love to see Paris return to the form she showed with Behind Closed Doors.

Psychological Thriller Fans rating - 68%.




When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…



AMAZON US (paperback)

AMAZON CA (paperback)

AMAZON AUS (paperback)

*Please note - while I'm not affiliated with the author, I do make a small commission on purchases made through these links.



The Dilemma

Behind Closed Doors

Bring Me Back

The Break Down


AJ Wills is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.

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