Published: March 5, 2019 by Harlequin – Trade Publishing
Dates Read: April 7 – 10, 2019
Genre/Category: Psychological Thriller/Suspense / Psychological Fiction
Read For: NetGalley Free Copy
Stop the presses! Psychological thrillers have a new contender!
Every author always strives to write the next best psychological thriller. We’ve been inundated with so many that the plots have become expected and outcomes predictable. As readers we almost certainly experience burnout, but we are dedicated and we keep on reading. Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward is absolutely not your typical psychological thriller, there is a different type of genius about this book that gives it a stunning brilliance.
This novel is about Maddie, a travel writer and her husband Ian, a former British soldier, now living in suburban Kansas with their son Charlie. Maddie has started attending writing therapy after a camping accident where she reveals her concerns about Ian’s PTSD, her concerns about the safety of their young son Charlie, and the couples stormy past with Maddie’s best friend Jo. The chapters alternate between past and present revolving mostly around “The Day of the Killing” when a frenzied 911 call brings the police to the site of a horrible crime at their home.
This novel was so different than what I expected, it was so brilliantly written with such a unique backstory. You usually go into these books expecting your typical relationship issues, something along the lines of a chic-lit novel except with murder and suspense. I was about a quarter of the way in and the story line was so intriguing, I really had no idea what was going to happen or where things were going but I was 100% absorbed and I wasn’t stopping.
As you continue through the book you get just enough from each timeline to keep you immersed. The writing regarding Maddie’s anxiety is depicted so well and the psychologist sessions (talking about what Maddie is anxious is about, the psychologists reactions) I found to be quite believable. There is a lot of information about Maddie, Jo and Ian’s travels and Ian’s military experience. There was an abundance of information here that had to take a lot of research on behalf of the author. I know nothing about these topics to say whether or not they were accurate, but the information was plausible and made the story line all the more captivating.
All of a sudden BAM. This novel turns into an old Batman & Robin action scene. You get hit so hard…. WHAM, SPLAT, POW, one after the other with all the Ian/Jo baggage that you actually need to pause for a second. So here we are, with 10% of the book left, and I think I have it all figured out. I got this, I really got this. (At this point I am also thrilled because I finally got the “Bunny Boiler” file connection). Then in swoops Batman with one final hit….ZONK….. and you end up with one of the most delicious endings I have ever read in a long time. And no, I did not have this at all, not one bit. This is one of those times where I am happy to admit defeat.
I am usually extremely stingy with 5 stars, but this book is truly deserving. It had all the characteristics that are important: well written, character development, excellent story line, and definitely left me with a lot of feelings and emotions after I finished. But it’s the uniqueness of the backstory and the infuriatingly magnificent ending that is what carried it over the finish line for me. I highly recommend reading this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Park Row for the free copy of this book for a honest and unbiased review.