By: B.A. Paris

Published: July 18, 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


One of the most riveting thrillers I read last year was Paris’s first novel, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. It made my skin crawl and kept me turning the pages until I finished it. Her sophomore thriller, THE BREAKDOWN is just as creepy and mystifying, but maybe not quite as exciting.

Cass, a newly married teacher, who after celebrating the end of the school year, drives home during a heavy rain storm. Anxious to get home, she takes the shortcut through the woods, even though she knows it could be dangerous during the storm. Just miles from home, she comes upon a car pulled along side of the road. After some thought, Cass decides the person must be waiting for someone and chooses not to get out and investigate. The next morning, Cass learns that a woman was found, murdered, on the same stretch of road, right near their home. After Cass realizes she also knew the woman, her life is completely torn apart by her guilt at not stopping to help and her fear about whether the murderer is still out there and saw her that night.

Cass’s mom has recently passed away from dementia and the stress of the murder has made Cass’s own memory lapses more pronounced. She can’t seem to keep anything straight and wonders if it is stress from the murder or if she too, is suffering from early on-set dementia like her mom.

Along with Cass, her husband Alex, her best friend Rachel and some other co-workers fill out the main characters in the story. The book chronicles the dates of July 17 through October 2 during the present day. Each chapter highlights the events of that day which mostly includes Cass’s paranoia about the murder and her memory lapses. As the dates move along through the summer, I got a little bored with the repeated occurrences of Cass’s fear and forgetfulness, Alex’s concern and desperation, and Rachel’s inability to be there for her best friend. The murderer is eluding the authorities and the reader begins to question every character and conversation, wondering who the murderer could be.

Finally, when you can’t seem to stand it anymore and you just want to skip to the last page of the book, the author gives you a little twist and baits you to keep reading all the way to the end. There is a lot of build-up and the characters continue to throw you off. At one point, I even wondered if Cass, as the narrator could be considered as reliable due to her constant confusion. But, once the truth is revealed, you keep reading to make sure that the murderer is caught and revenge has taken place.

I still found this to be a good mystery that held my attention. I just found it a bit repetitive. Paris does, however, create scenes that the reader can feel the panic in the character’s voice and actions. Readers will care about Cass and feel sorry for her when she is frantically looking for her car in the ramp or trying to remember why she ordered an item that arrives in the mail. They will sympathize with her fears knowing the murderer is still loose. Cass is likable and easy to root for, even if her struggles to function get annoying. Paris has a way of creating characters with flaws that we will still relate to, root for, and believe in. She also has a way of surprising you once the mystery is revealed. All qualities much needed in a good mystery novel.

B. A. Paris – source

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. Follow her on Twitter, HERE

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