The Break Down by B. A. Paris

The Blurb On The Back:

It all started that night in the woods.

Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.

Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.

Consumed by guilt, she’s also started to forget things.  Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is, and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.

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

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Having nursed her mother through early on-set dementia until her death, Cass Anderson resumed her teaching career and has been happily married to the handsome Matthew for almost a year.  They live in a remote house near Browbury in Sussex and although Matthew doesn’t get on with Cass’s best friend Rachel (a shared antipathy) their life is good.  Then one night Cass takes a short cut home from a party through a lane running through the woods near her home during a storm.  When Cass spots a car parked by the side of the road, she assumes that it’s broken down but the female driver doesn’t give any sense that she’s in trouble and so, anxious to get home, Cass drives on.

The next day Cass discovers that the woman has been brutally murdered.  Convinced that she should have done something, she’s too ashamed to tell the police that she was there but the killer clearly saw her because she starts to get silent phone calls.  Worse, her guilt makes her forgetful – little things at first but it soon becomes clear that there’s something more going on, something a lot more frightening …

B. A. Paris’s psychological thriller is a smug, distinctly middle class affair with a weak and gullible main character who really irritated me and a plot that riffs heavily on GASLIGHT to produce an inferior result.  The big problem with the book is that the plot is so obvious from the outset.  Paris is clumsy in setting out her plot twists from the start (in fact I’d pretty much guessed everything by the end of the third chapter) and it’s not helped by the fact that Cass is such a weak and gullible person unable to ask even the most obvious questions.  I could have forgiven that if she’d grown more of a spine towards the end but her ‘revenge’ is pathetic and deeply unsatisfying.  There are other issues with the book, such as the reveal of Cass’s relationship with the victim (which made me wonder why she didn’t recognise her in the car) and the nature of the antagonist’s plot (which didn’t completely convince me as the motivation seemed quite weak given how elaborate the plot was).  Ultimately, I found this to be a predictable, irritating read that only serves to demonstrate how great GASLIGHT is.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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