Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of “The Breakdown” by She Speaks Up. All opinions included here are my own. Also this post contains affiliate links; learn more here.
I like to think of myself as an open-minded reader: show me a good book — in any genre — and I’ll dive in.
But the truth is differen. I’ve realized that I tend to stick to literary fiction, memoir, historical fiction, and nonfiction. Occasionally, I’ll dabble into science fiction and chick lit, but those reads typically have a purpose behind them (i.e., it’s a book club book or I found the book on a shelf at a vacation home and I have nothing else to read.) I almost never (meaning I can’t remember the last time) read anything in thriller/mystery genre. Perhaps I haven’t wanted to commit to a book that’s unsettling or scary (words I often associate with this genre) or I haven’t found a novel that would give me a good introduction to this whole other section in the library that I’ve never visited.
Then, the folks at SheSpeaksUp and St. Martin’s Press invited me to read B.A. Paris’ latest book — just released — “The Breakdown.” I understand now why people love thrillers; they are a puzzle in book form, and it’s the reader’s job to put the pieces together.
“The Breakdown” starts with a tragedy: a young woman is dead. Her death captures the attention of Cass, the novel’s protagonist, as she finds herself unexpectedly connected to the woman. Cass’ life starts to deteriorate quickly after she learns that the woman was murdered. She’s forgetting things, she becomes confused easily, she’s scared that the murderer is after her. Is she really in trouble? Or, is it all in her mind?
I thought I had the plot twists of “The Breakdown” all figured out. I felt like I was playing “Clue” (who remembers that board game?). Just as I was always confident it was Mrs. Peacock in the Parlor Room (when it was always Professor Plum in the kitchen), I felt that I knew exactly what was going on in “The Breakdown” only to be wrong again. I committed to my theory around page 100 and then read on to find out that B.A. Paris’ plotting was more complicated (and not as obvious) as mine. I enjoyed being wrong, which, I guess, is part of the fun of reading a thriller. You’re not sure what’s going to happen next, and that’s really the best part.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Recommendation: A great vacation read. Curl up with “The Breakdown” under a beach umbrella or before a cozy fire. (In fact, I finished it while on a 14-hour plane ride; it made the trip go by much faster!) A good choice for readers, like me, wondering if thrillers are for them, and for fans of mysteries that are intriguing–but not scary.