Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: Bring Me Back

Summary: She went missing. He moved on. A whole world of secrets remained—until now.

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. -- St. Martin's Press

Last year at BEA, I had the opportunity to meet the woman who writes as B.A. Paris. Despite the disturbing nature of her novels, she really was quite delightful. So when I received her latest novel, BRING ME BACK, I thought it would be appropriate to read it on my train trip to this year's BEA.

BRING ME BACK tells the story of Finn, a man whose fiancee Layla disappeared almost ten years ago, and his wife Ellen... who just happens to be Layla's sister. Layla mysteriously disappeared at a service station while Finn was using the restroom -- or at least that's the story he told the investigators. Finn was initially a person of interest; however, nothing was ever found to link him to Layla's strange disappearance.

Finn was deeply affected by the loss of Layla, but he eventually was able to move on. After working through Layla's disappearance, Finn and Ellen became quite close and are now engaged to be married. Finn loves Ellen, but he doesn't have quite the same passion he once had for her sister. In fact, he's never truly understood her and something just seems a little off about her.

As their wedding date approaches, things start getting weird for Finn. First, he receives a call that Layla is alive -- that someone saw her near their old house. But that's just the beginning. Little trinkets from their past begin showing up at Finn and Ellen's home, and then Finn starts getting text messages from Layla. The messages reference things that only Layla could have known. Finn isn't entirely sure what to believe. He wants to settle down and be a good husband to Ellen, but if Layla is alive...

Finn is determined to find Layla and discover what really happened to her all those years ago. He goes back and forth between reflecting on their past and trying to figure out the clues she is now leaving for him. In the process, Finn begins to question everything he thought he knew about his life, and what he finally discovers is most shocking!

For the most part, I enjoyed BRING ME BACK. I'm not sure I enjoyed it quite as much as Ms. Paris' first two novels, but thought the premise of the story was terrific. At the beginning of the book, I thought the pacing was perfect and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough; however, there were other times when I felt as if the story was kind of slow. I think maybe the cat and mouse games between Layla and Finn just went on a little too long for me.

Having said that, I did like the book's plot of this missing woman returning to Finn's life after ten years and when he had finally moved on; and I really wanted to find out why she went missing in the first place. I definitely enjoyed that this novel was so complex -- there were actually mysteries inside of mysteries. There was the obvious question of what actually happened to Layla all those years ago and whether Finn was responsible, but there was also the mysteries surrounding whether she was still alive and why she would come back to Finn now.

BRING ME BACK definitely kept me guessing on so many fronts, and that's probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. First and foremost, Finn was an unreliable narrator and Layla was truly an unstable person. I wasn't quite sure who or what to believe. As I started to figure a few things out, I wasn't even entirely sure whether to believe my gut feelings about the characters. Finn, Layla, and Ellen all seemed to have so many secrets... and none of them were very likable which made it even more difficult for me to assess their actions!

Finally, I did appreciate how the author decided to unravel the mysteries in this novel. The story went back and forth between Finn's views of the present and the past, but as I mentioned earlier, I wasn't entirely sure his version of events were accurate. He was definitely keeping some secrets, and as the crazy truth became more apparent to me towards the end of the novel, I learned that other individuals were just as secretive. It was a rather shocking ending that I'm still not certain I loved... or found totally believable.

All in all, BRING ME BACK was a suspenseful read with a few strange characters and a lot of twists and turns. Recommended to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I thought the cat and mouse game went on too long as well. This is my least favorite of Paris's books but I still liked it.

teacher333 said...

One of my new favorite authors!

The Book Sage said...

I've got Paris' Behind Closed Doors in my TBR pile. I need to read that before I fall too far behind with this author.