Bring Me Backby B.A. Paris Published 19 Jun 2018
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Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.
Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.
Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?
A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.
"Bring Me Back" Reviews
What is it you want Layla?
1 1/2 stars. I swear I gave it my best shot. I really wanted to love this book. Paris' Behind Closed Doors kept me on the edge of my seat, but her sophomore novel The Breakdown bored me, so I figured two out of three ain't bad, right? Sorry, it's a Meat Loaf kinda morning.
But this book is so CHEESY.
I'll give it an extra half star for keeping me reading despite rolling my eyes every few pages, but that's the most enthusiasm I can muster for it. The twist/reveal of the book may be shocking to new mystery readers, but it's actually been used by too many authors for me not to see it coming at this point. And many of those authors have made it more convincing than Paris managed here.
Bring Me Back alternates between the past, in which Finn (the narrator) and his girlfriend Layla take a holiday in France and she disappears; the present, in which we find ourselves ten years later with Finn about to marry Layla's sister Ellen; and first person accounts from Layla, where she mostly talks like a comic book villain, figuratively twirling her mustache. Muahaha.
Most of the book takes place in the present. Despite believing Layla is gone for good, signs start popping up that she may be alive. Her beloved Russian dolls start appearing everywhere, and when Finn receives emails from a mysterious source who seems to know too much, it becomes obvious something nefarious is going on.
Problem is, it's all a bit like a slightly comical (though unintentionally so) B-movie. Every chapter ends with some really cheesy line that is supposed to be ominous. Like:
"I don't ever want you to be scared of me," I say.
Not like Layla was, that night, I silently add.
So I log on to my emails and find one from Layla.
YOU HAVE TEN DAYS
It was just so ridiculous I wanted to laugh. The narrative reminds me of the criminologist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, raising his eyebrow at the camera and saying "Or had they?"
And it was difficult to become invested in any of the characters' stories. Finn seems like a dick from the get-go (and a dumbass - why would he go meet someone he suspects is a kidnapper?), Ellen and the secondary characters are bland and one-dimensional, and don't even get me started on Layla. There was no hook; no exciting questions. The middle dragged as I was forced to ponder what exactly I was supposed to be caring about - are we supposed to be afraid of Layla? Are we supposed to care about the romantic relationships and who Finn will choose?
In general, I prefer more carefully-crafted plots with more complex characters than Paris offers up here, but I can definitely enjoy pulpy, nasty thrillers like her Behind Closed Doors. Unfortunately, though, I don't think this book was particularly clever OR fast-paced and enjoyable. I guess her first book might have been a one-off for me.
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Holy Moly! The 'Do Not Disturb’ sign was definitely displayed (mentally if not physically) while I read Bring Me Back! Seriously, if this book had been edible, I would have made myself ill devouring it!
British couple Finn and his girlfriend Layla, are on their way home from a skiing trip in France when he pulls into a secluded, dimly lit area late at night to use the restroom. When he returns to the car Layla is nowhere to be found!
Fast forward 12 years and Finn has moved on with his life, in fact he’s now in a relationship with Layla’s sister Ellen, and they’re living happily together in a picturesque Cotswold village. However, knowing how B A Paris's previous books played out, I knew that this idyllic situation wasn't going to last! Someone claiming to be Layla contacts Finn by email, and also begins leaving Russian dolls outside his house and sending them in the mail. These dolls have huge significance for Layla and Ellen, but is it really Layla, who’s behind it?
My oh my, who’d have thought that Russian dolls could have such frightening significance! This was a fantastic storyline, and for me it was the plot rather than the characters that was the star of the show, and literally had me holding my breath at times. The tension began on page one and really never let up, with the author using misdirection - smoke and mirrors to maximum effect, and though I kind of guessed where it was heading, it didn't pan out exactly as I thought it would, which meant I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Utterly gripping!
*Thank you to Netgalley and HQ for my ARC. I have given an honest review in exchange *
Entertaining but utterly ridiculous!
The plot is derived from a soap opera and the main character is a moron. However, it's a fun mindless read!
Unfortunately, I was less than impressed with Bring Me Back. I feel like all the soap opera watching I have done helped me to figure things out rather early on. I was hoping I was wrong, but sadly I was not. When all was revealed, I was laughing and I don’t think I was meant to be. I am capable of suspending disbelief but this goes beyond. I really could have cared less about Finn, Ellen, and Layla. They lacked depth and intelligence. Peggy the dog was the only character I cared about.
Despite all the issues I had, I did have fun reading this and I enjoyed how the Russian nesting dolls were woven in.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
Please don't hate me. I have mad respect for B.A. Paris; I felt her debut novel Behind Closed Doors was a forerunner in the domestic abuse thriller genre and I think the quality of her writing is incredible. Unfortunately, this one was just too over the top for me.
Like a few other people have mentioned previously, I was gripped and fully invested during "Part One". I did find I had already guessed initially where "Part Two" was going, but wanted to keep an open mind. I didn't find the characters particularly likable or well developed; this is a short novel focused on moving the plot along and not particularly on character development, but Paris kept me turning the pages and unable to put the book down.
It had started going downhill in "Part Two" for me, but where the story really lost me was "Part Three". The twist is simultaneously one that has been done before many times in many ways, yet also one that is so far fetched and wackadoodle that there is no way it could be remotely plausible. This may be due to the fact that I've read so many thrillers; someone who is newer to the genre and a little less jaded will likely take to the twist much more graciously than I was able to.
In short, the pages were easy to turn, but in the end I can't say that I enjoyed this one. I'm still on board the author's fan train and will eagerly await her next novel. <3
*I received a copy for review via the publisher.
4.5 stars for this ridiculously fun, brilliant & entertaining book!
BRING ME BACK by B. A. PARIS had me racing through the pages and finishing this in just two sittings which I haven’t done in quite some time. I really upped my Kindle “time left in book” reading average with this book.
So here’s the thing about this book. It was an extremely enjoyable, entertaining, fun, and ridiculous psychological thriller novel that had me totally engrossed and interested right from the very first page. The psychological aspect to this novel I thought was extremely clever and well executed. I know that doesn’t sound right but that is the way I felt while reading this one. I wouldn’t say that this storyline was all that suspenseful or thrilling but I absolutely love the way that B. A. Paris tells a story though. There were definitely some questionable storytelling and one liners here that had me rolling my eyes a little bit but all in all nothing really irked me and I absolutely loved the Epilogue. Let’s just say the last line of this book I gave a little whoop and thought it was a good one and thank you B. A. Paris for that!!
B. A. PARIS delivers a very readable, unique and fun story here with unreliable characters that weaves back and forth in a then and now perspective with short chapters to make this an extremely quick and easy read.
So if you are looking for a compulsive read with the help of some Russian Stacking Dolls to solve this mystery then this book is for you! Would recommend!
Publishing Date: June 19, 2018
Thank you so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and B. A. Paris for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Review written and posted on our themed book blog Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading.
Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.
Unsettling in the best possible way!!!
Does anyone put the “psychology” into psychological thriller quite as well as B. A. Paris??? Paris really has a way with messed up characters and disturbing situations. This book is a mind game from the first chapter right through the very last page. I finished this book two days ago and the story is haunting me! What a great read!
As happens with Paris, early reviews are largely positive, with a mix of “did-not-finish”. Most of those seem to struggle connecting with the characters. I urge readers to give this book time! You don’t always have to like all of the characters to enjoy the ride. And I think some characters will ultimately surprise you—all are not telling the full story right away, which made the development points for each character so compelling. This is a book that grows in suspense and makes you uneasy, right along with the characters.
12 years ago
Finn is living the Bachelor life in London when he meets Layla. Instantly, Finn forgets his current girlfriend and develops strong feelings for the enigmatic Layla. A year into their relationship Finn and his Layla are on their way home from a vacation in France, when they pull over so Finn can use the restroom. He is gone only a few minutes, and when he returns Layla’s door is open and she is missing. Finn looks everywhere but Layla is gone…
Finn has moved away from his cottage with Layla to a new home in Simonsbridge. After a long grieving period, Finn moved on to other relationships before falling for Ellen, whom he has just gotten engaged to. But Ellen isn’t just any woman, she’s Layla’s older sister. Ignoring the gossip from those who remember the story of Layla’s disappearance, Finn and Ellen have created a wonderful, happy life together.
Until one day Ellen find a small token on the wall outside their house…
The token is innocuous to all but Ellen and Finn. You see, there is only one person outside of themselves who could possibly know the meaning of this token…Layla. But how can that be?
Is it possible Layla is still alive?
The premise of the story was enough to make me read this book, but I also have to say that Finn’s struggle to comprehend the meaning of the events is what kept me hooked. I wouldn’t say I particularly connected with Finn, but I did feel so much empathy for him. Finn in a way is his own worst enemy. He is such a passionate person, and so was Layla. This is what drew them together. Ellen is Layla’s opposite in so many ways, and yet she is good for Finn, if only he will let her be. But you can see his struggle to truly forget the past.
The love of Finn and Layla was entirely different from the love Finn shares with Ellen. Sometimes I wanted to shake him and say “why can’t you let yourself be happy?!?!?” But of course, you can’t. One thing that was particularly engaging about the storyline was the lack of closure. As much as Finn wants to convince himself that Layla is likely dead, her disappearance and lack of finality leaves that small part in his brain that makes him wonder if it is possible she did survive somehow. That lack of closure would drive anyone mad, particularly when the token shows up.
Finn’s heart is fighting with his mind. He knows the likelihood that Layla is still alive but hasn’t made contact with anyone for 12 years is nearly impossible, and yet he wants it to be true. The story is somewhat slow, but steady. It is never stagnant. This was one that I looked forward to diving back into each time I had to put it down. I’m so thrilled that B. A. Paris has continued to write such compelling novels, and I look forward to her next one!
My sincerest gratitude to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and B. A. Paris for providing me an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.