The Breakdown: B.A. Paris

The Breakdown: B.A. Paris

Genre: Thriller

Published: 2017

Pages: 328

Cass Anderson’s life changes forever when she drives past a woman sitting in her car on the way home from an outing with her coworkers. She could have stopped (and actually did for a moment), but did nothing to help her. The following day, the woman is found dead.

As her guilt begins to set in, she finds herself forgetting everything, from where she parked to the gift she’d say she’d ordered for a friend of hers. Not comforting is the fact that her mother had early-onset dementia. But when she begins to receive strange phone calls and believes that someone is entering the house, she wonders: is she going crazy, or is someone actually looking for revenge?

This novel is a thrill ride from the get-go that kept me reading.

At first I wanted to roll my eyes. There is a mention of Cass’ missing father just a few pages in. At first, I wanted to be like “UGH SERIOUSLY MORE MISSING FATHERS, B.A. PARIS??” (In case you couldn’t tell, this is one of my biggest writing trope pet peeves these days because they’re in almost every book I read lately and often have no place in the story.)  Fortunately, this issue dissolves making me wonder why it’s there in the first place. But I have to give Paris credit, because there may actually be a reason for the mention of the dead dad. Finally! (If you’ll forgive a minor spoiler, if that, I was also happy to see that the “surprise pregnancy” trope wasn’t here either.) 

There is action in this story from the beginning. Cass is enjoying her simple life as a teacher with her husband until the night of the wreck, when things turn upside down. Readers, including Cass, may believe that the victim’s murderer is following her because she neglected to help the woman in the car. But Cass makes a lot of false assumptions throughout the book, and her faulty memory doesn’t help. Between her legitimate fear of dementia, the possible people or things following her, and more, her readers won’t know who to trust. This suspense is enhanced by the cast of characters: Cass’ fellow schoolteachers including a guy that might like her, her loyal childhood best friend, her husband who just gets more and more annoyed by her memory issues as time goes on, people passing through (like the man installing their house alarm). There are plenty of possible people that could be behind anything. Also interesting is the story of the victim herself. It’s someone that Cass may have ties to. Additionally, the actual crime of the woman’s murder and what is going on in Cass’ life seem to be different stories at times. I enjoyed seeing how everything came together. Yes, it was slightly convoluted. But I wasn’t able to guess anything either and I enjoyed the mind trip.

One thing that I was afraid of was predictability–I think most readers familiar with the genre will guess who or what is behind Cass’ breakdown very early on. (To be fair, there is another possible culprit I had in mind.) However, what makes up for this is that figuring out that particular who/what is only one part of the story. There is more going on than meets the eye, and I doubt readers will be able to figure out the entire thing. At least, I didn’t. 

The one thing that did disappoint me was the ending, or rather how it was handled. Cass finds out the reason for everything and…that’s it. It’s very abrupt and there’s not even a thrilling climax with a confrontation or anything. It’s a little exposition-y, and we don’t even see other characters’ reactions. That disappointed me. Although the action and suspense is full speed ahead from page 1, the place where it should have come to a head was lacking in both. 

Still, this was an exciting read and I couldn’t wait to keep coming back for more. I think that her first novel, Behind Closed Doors, is going to be a must-read for me. Again, readers familiar with the genre might find a couple of things predictable but I enjoyed it nonetheless. That does, though, make it a good book to start with if this is your first thriller foray.

4 stars

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