Fangirl Friday: A Review of B.A. Paris Books

I love mystery/thrillers. Books, movies, TV shows, I love them all. So, for this Fangirl Friday I'm here to tell you about two recent mystery/thrillers I read that I enjoyed very much. Those of you who follow our What the Wenches are Reading posts will know that I listened to two books by B.A. Paris. First was Behind Closed Doors. I enjoyed that one so much, when I finished it, I sought out her most recent book, The Breakdown, to listen to as well. Both are mystery/psychological thrillers that take place in England. They are both in the same vein as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. If you liked those, I think that you'll like these as well. That's why I'm here today. I'm going to do a short review on both books and hopefully convince you to give them a shot. Join me after the break to hear my (non-spoilery) thoughts!

I'm going to start with Behind Closed Doors, since I listened to that one first. Before we get into my thoughts though, let me give you a little summary.....

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
(Taken from Goodreads)

I won't give anything away. I'll let you infer what you want to infer from that description. I will say
that this book reminded me very much of several Law & Order: SVU episodes I've seen, one in particular starring Andrew McCarthy, but somehow both worse and better at the same time. I'm sure there's a Lifetime movie like this, though which one escapes me at the moment. Anyway, Grace is a fantastic heroine. She doesn't (always) lose her wits whilst going through these trials. She is brave, kind, cunning, and smart in the worst of circumstances. Grace and her sister, Millie, share a lot of those qualities. Obviously Grace is the main protagonist of this story. But, I think Grace's sister, Millie, is the real hero. I won't get into why, because spoilers, but I think Millie gave Grace some much needed perspective which allowed her to keep her wits about her as she tries to escape this life. A new friend of Grace's, Esther, also makes for an intriguing character that I would have liked to know more about.

Jack is as terrifying as Grace and Millie are uplifting. Dude is a straight up psycho. I don't want to
delve too far into him and his backstory, lest I give something away. But, Jack is, at least in part, the classic abuser, seemingly stand up guy, everyone loves him, everyone wants to be him. But, that's only his public persona. I spent a good portion of this book thinking, and sometimes saying out loud, "What the ever-loving fuck is wrong with this guy?" Again, he brought to mind several SVU characters, Andrew McCarthy, obviously, but also one other one, I can't recall his name, but he and his backstory reminded me very much of Jack. A part of me wishes the ending had been different, but the other part of me thinks he got what he deserved. And, that's all I'm going to say about that.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I forgot to mention it's told in pieces. The narrative jumps back and forth from the present to the past. We see the start of Grace and Jack's relationship and work forward to the present. Just like Grace, when you think you've got a handle on what the situation is, the rug is pulled out from under you. If suspenseful, psychological books are your style, I think you'll really like this one.

Now, let's move on to Ms. Paris' most recent book, The Breakdown. Again, here's a summary before I tell you what I thought.

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…
(Taken from Goodreads)

The Breakdown is more of a traditional mystery. I liked it almost as much as Behind Closed Doors, but, being the avid mystery reader/TV watcher that I am, I guessed a lot of the reveals before they happened. One of them, I guessed, partially anyway, from just the opening pages. That, of course, didn't lessen my enjoyment. If anything, I like to keep reading just to see if I'm right. There were some things I didn't guess as well. While it wasn't the same as Behind Closed Doors, I still enjoyed it very much. Our protagonist, Cass, though...... While I related to her and empathized with her, I thought she was kind of whine-y. The whole premise of the story is based around her not wanting her husband to be mad at her. After that, she makes a GIANT leap in logic to a flawed conclusion. She redeems herself in the end, but for awhile there I kind of wanted to shake her until she came to her senses.

There are a few interesting supporting characters. Cass' husband, Matthew, for one. On the one hand, I feel sorry for him trying to deal with his wife's memory loss. My husband's grandmother had Alzheimer's and my grandmother had dementia. It's hell on the person's family. But, on the other hand, he has a fairly short fuse with her to the point that I kind of wanted to hit him. There's also Cass' almost sister/best friend, Rachel. She's in the same boat as Matthew, struggling to cope with Cass' memory. She, however, is overall much more supportive and patient than Matthew. Though, she, of course, has her own issues as well.

I can't discuss the villain of the book without major spoilers. I will say that, just like Behind Closed Doors, when the villain is revealed, my immediate thought was what the fuck. This villain is truly fucked in the head. Fortunately, pretty much everything is wrapped up by book's end, so you don't have too many dangling questions.

I liked this book very much, but some might be put off by Cass and her somewhat whiny personality. So, take that to heart if that kind of thing annoys you in your reading.  It actually reminded me very much of The Girl on the a Train, now that I think about it. Except with MUCH more likeable characters. But, if you are a fan of Law & Order or The Girl on the Train, I can nearly guarantee you'll enjoy this book too.

So, I hope I have convinced you to give BA Paris' books a whirl. I know I enjoyed them and, I think, they have started me off on a mystery/thriller kick. So, if you have any suggestions or if you've read Ms. Paris' books, let me know below!

PS: It was extremely hard for me to type Cass and not Cas. Even my auto-correct kept trying to fix it. Dammed Supernatural taking over my life again.


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