10 May 2017

Review #601: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”


B.A. Paris, an English bestselling author, pens a mind blowing psychological thriller in her new book, The Breakdown that revolves around a female recently married teacher returning back from a party, one rainy night, through a short cut road, when she suddenly stops her car to help another woman sitting motionlessly inside her car parked by the lane of the road, but she decides against helping that woman and drives by, and the next morning, she is shocked to find that particular woman has been found murdered, followed by her dementia and her immense guilt and fear about the murder of someone she could have saved.


If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her.

One rainy night while returning from a party, Cass, a teacher, takes a short cut to her home, against the advice of her husband, Matthew, who clearly asked her not to take a short cut from that particular, finds herself in a dilemma on whether to help the female stranger sitting inside her car parked by the side of the lane of that short cut road or not. Cass finally comes to a conclusion, as the stranger is not asking for any help also, to leave her alone and drive away to her home. Little did Cass had any idea of that the woman will be found murdered on the very next morning, and that stranger would turn out to be her friend, Jane, whom she had lunch with just a week ago. Consumed by immense guilt and fear, Cass tends to find herself forgetting petty things and events, followed by blank calls and sightings of a strange man near her house. Matthew, being an overtly protective and caring husband, tries to calm Cass down, but Cass's dementia is getting better of her. With the murderer still at large, Cass is getting hysterical, and most importantly, she is losing faith from her life and especially from herself. Will she lose herself or will the killer get to her first?

Well this is the first time that I picked up a copy by the author, B. A . Paris, and the experience of first time reading her book is just plain average, as the book failed to excite or thrill me. For a seasoned crime fiction reader like me, the baller twist of this story line felt a bit foreseeable and I could easily guess away the suspects right at the very beginning, since there are only handful of characters, hence it becomes easy to guess away the identity pretty easily. Apart from that, the story line has lot of elements to make it one hell of a bone-chilling ride for anyone, especially for those who love horror books. The opening scene of the book is bound to send chills down the spine of any reader, in fact, I too was left slightly spooked from the vividness of the scene penned so amazingly by the author. I felt myself sitting right beside Cass and watching the whole eerie scene unfolding right before my own eyes.

The writing style of the author is coherent that will let the readers to contemplate with the flow of the story. The narrative is engaging although they lack depth, and since the story is narrated from the perspective of a hysterical central character, so the readers might often find themselves extremely bored with the repetitiveness of the certain events. At times, I felt, like there is no way to tag along with the conventional progress of whodunit, instead of being forced to stick with Cass's paranoia while left with a feeling that terrible something might happen to her. The pacing is, no doubt, pretty fast, yet the verbose scenes made it a bit of a tedious read for me.

The characters are amazingly crafted from scratch, although certain secondary characters felt very flat, as they lacked depth or layers in their demeanor. The main character, Cass, is penned with enough realism in her demeanor. The author gave her fear, anxiety and guilt over her decision, thereby making her emotions look deep and relatable for the readers. The mystery concocted by the author is full of tension, drama, edgy suspense and twists to make the book a compelling pot boiling read for its readers.

In a nutshell, this is a moderate psycho thriller where the opening scene steals the show, but the whodunit mars that charm.

Verdict: An okay-ish read, with a slightly captivating story line.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
B A Paris grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.
Visit her here

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