Book Review: The Breakdown

Cait Findlay 1 May 2017

Very often authors with a successful debut novel have the immense pressure of living up to the same high standard in their second book. During the vacation, I decided to indulge in some chilling thrillers and read both of B. A. Paris’ novels, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, back to back. Having read Before I Go to Sleep, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train, other popular thrillers, I expected The Breakdown to proverbially keep me on the edge of my seat and leave me breathless. Sadly, I felt rather let down once I had finished it.

As a brief summary, one night, Cass decides to take a short cut through the woods after a night out. She is eager to get out of the storm and back to her beautiful cottage and partner. What she doesn’t realise is that the woman whom she saw in a car in the woods will be found murdered the next morning. Since then, she has been having a hard time feeling guilty for not stopping and getting out to offer help. But soon guilt turns to paranoia and dread as she starts getting silent phone calls and forgetting things. I couldn’t help feeling empathetic for Cass as she loses her grip on reality, but at the same time, I was frustrated that she couldn’t pull herself together. The novel was full of suspense and intrigue, but not quite as bloodcurdling as Behind Closed Doors, which was Paris' spine-tingling debut.

The Breakdown was an easy read – perfect for curling up in bed with on a rainy day. Due to the unreliable narrator, it kept me guessing. In particular, what seems to be early onset dementia in Cass made me question the truth of everything that she said. That's not to say that the book wasn’t intriguing, but the twists weren’t shocking or surprising. It was pretty easy to guess where the story was heading. It’s interesting how I felt groggy and weary as I was reading it because my body was mirroring Cass’ behaviour. One main thing that I learnt from the book is that you have to be really careful if you’re cheating on your partner. Or don’t cheat in the first place – karma is a bitch.

If you’re a huge thriller fan who has read Paris’ Behind Closed Doors, I’d make other recommendations, unless you don't mind the potential of being disappointed. I hope Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water will not leave me feeling as disappointed as this book did.