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The Break Down, thriller set in a fictional English town

25th February 2017

The Break Down by B A Paris – thriller set in a fictional English town.

Cass Anderson has promised Matthew, her slightly over-protective husband, that she will not take a short cut down Blackwater Lane on her way home from an evening out. When she leaves her friends and starts the drive home, however, there is a fierce thunderstorm raging and the dark and wooded lane seems a safer bed than the motorway with its skidding cars and spray-induced lack of visibility. Half way down the lane she spots a car parked awkwardly in a lay-by, its sole occupant a lone woman who stares forlornly out of the windscreen. Cass debates stopping to offer help but ultimately decides against it. The following morning, she discovers that the woman has been murdered. Cass is immediately wracked with guilt; if she had stopped, could she have prevented the murder?

thriller set in a fictional English town

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Being reluctant to let Matthew know that she has broken her promise, she rings the police anonymously and gives her information and then the silent phone calls begin, making Cass fear that she is being watched by the killer. To make matters worse, she has also started forgetting all kinds of things – like having made arrangements to meet friends, where she has parked the car, even having made very expensive purchases. As her mother died of dementia at the early age of fifty-five, Cass begins to fear that she is facing a similar fate.

B A Paris’s debut thriller Behind Closed Doors, which was published last year, created a real buzz and flew up the bestseller list. My guess is that The Break Down will do the same. It’s very well written – you’d expect no less from someone who describes herself as a perfectionist – but it’s also an excellent thriller (or dark, psychological drama, as Paris describes it) and it’s not a genre that’s as easy as it seems. For a start, it’s hard to get the central character right – often they are either stupidly over-confident (unbelievable) or ultra-wimpy (frustrating) but Cass is neither; the reader is with her all the way. Then too, it’s hard to get the perfect balance between the central character’s internal dialogue and action just right as Paris does, but, most of all, this novel really keeps you guessing. Who is her stalker? Paris skilfully makes the reader feel the insecurity, the doubt, the fear that Cass feels.

This novel doesn’t deliver in terms of setting (TripFiction’s remit). It is set in, or near, Castle Wells, a fictional town in England. The car park, the pub, the coffee shop, where some of the action plays out could be any car park, pub or coffee shop. Castle Wells could be any town in England.

It’s a brilliant read. I read it in one sitting and how often does book grab you like that?

Ellen for the TripFiction Team

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