Title: Beautiful Bad
Author: Annie Ward
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
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.
This book had such a good premise but unfortunately for me it just didn’t work on any level. I don’t know if it’s because I read so many thrillers and I just picked up on things but I knew how the book was going to end pretty much from the first couple of chapters. Since I already guessed the ending it made the book feel like a very long journey to the end. I kept waiting for something to happen that would be shocking but it never really happened.
Another big issue that I had with this story was the blurb on the front cover. It says “the perfect marriage leads to the perfect crime”. The husband and wife, Maddie and Ian NEVER had a good relationship. They were dysfunctional from the word go and never had a healthy relationship. So for the book to proclaim from the beginning that they had a perfect marriage really annoys me. If you read this book, please let me know what you think of their relationship. Also, a large chunk of the book is spent building up to the actual start of their relationship and the whole time I was irritated. It was so over the top dramatic and went on for way too long.
Which brings me to another thing I disliked. The story is cluttered with unnecessary subplots and characters which just make the story longer than was needed. Way too much time was spent on an ex-girlfriend. Too much time on the author trying to show us what good friends Maddie and Jo are. (Sidenote- they are not. Another book and another poor representation of female friendship. Or just friendship in general. Why in some books is one friend obviously going through something and the supposed best friend is not supportive or caring about it at all?) Also, the full circle of the friendship was not even believable to me at all. I don’t want to get into spoilers but that was the one thing that surprised me about the ending. (Can I be any more vague?) I probably would have appreciated the police angle of the story more if it had a bigger impact through the majority of the story. But we barely got any of that story through like 90% of the book and then it just became a huge part of the plot. Which wasn’t even vital to understanding the ending, so like everything else, it just served to make the book drag on.
Overall, I think someone who reads the occasional thriller would probably enjoy this story but for me it was too predictable and too long. I feel like Annie Ward had so many ideas that she kind of just threw them all in. I know for sure I would have liked this book a lot more if there had been some severe editing done to make the story have better pacing and focus. I do want to say that this may very well be a case of it’s me and not the book. I have seen a few reviews and they all seem fairly positive. So, if this book seems at all interesting to you then I suggest you check it out. Just know going into it that it’s not really what it is advertised as.