Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward
Published in: 2019
Reviewed by: Book Worm
This ARC was provided by Quercus Books (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: In the most explosive and twisted psychological thriller since The Woman in the Window, a beautiful marriage turns beautifully bad.
Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry… That something is really, really wrong with me.
Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: This was a solid 3 star read for me I started it yesterday morning and finished it late yesterday evening which is not bad going for 368 page book. I have seen some reviews that criticise this book for being boring but personally I was hooked and wanted to know how things would end up. I have also seen reviews saying that the ending saves the book I disagree I would have ended the book a lot sooner than the author did sometimes less really is more and leaving what happened up to the readers interpretation is not always a bad thing.
From the start we know there has been a murder, how do we know this? The fact that the chapter is titled “Day of the killing” was a bit of a giveaway for me. What we don’t know is who has been killed, who killed them and most important of all why did they kill them.
The book moves backwards in time to show the reader all the events that lead up to the killing. We move back 12 weeks before the killing to chapters narrated by Maddie as she decides whether or not she should see a therapist about her obsessive anxiety that appears to have been triggered by a recent accident that has left her with a badly scarred face and memory issues. These chapters work forward to the day of the killing as Maddie tells us how her therapy sessions are going and we begin to learn what her current life is like.
We also move back in time to 2001 when Maddie first meets her husband to be Ian while visiting her friend Jo in war torn Macedonia. Ian is a soldier on protection detail, Jo works to help refugees and Maddie is a travel writer researching Eastern Europe for a series of articles. The relationship between the 3 of them ends with Jo and Maddie no longer talking and with Maddie eventually married to Ian and raising his son.
As we learn more about the events from 2001 forward it’s easy to see why Maddie could feel afraid of her husband the things he sees and does in various war zones around the world but particularly Africa are enough to traumatise and damage anyone, but he is not the only one with a trauma in his past.
What I liked about this book was the way it explored the nature of people who will willing put themselves in harms way whether for money, to help others or just for a new experience. I liked the fact that the women are strong and independent and although they are living in a war zone they don’t let it stop them doing what they want. I also enjoyed the background details about how long the travel time is between countries, the border agents and even the bombs in the background. I am guessing these are the bits that other reviewers have found boring but for me it is these details that make the book, they gave me as a reader a real sense of time and place.
Overall this was an interesting read that provided me with plenty of escapism on a dull and windy Saturday.
Who would like this? I would recommend this to those who enjoy thrillers that are based on how the characters think and feel rather than in blood being splashed liberally around.
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