The Breakdown by B. A. Paris revolves around a young high school teacher just going on summer break. She’s looking forward to having some down time, spending with her new husband in their new cottage. What she gets is altogether darker. It all begins when Cass spots a car presumed to be broken down one stormy night. The woman ends up murdered. Cass feels responsible for not doing more for the woman, but she had very logical reasons for not. The next morning Cass learns the woman was murdered and in fact, someone Cass knew. She begins to have her own personal breakdown. Her guilt, mysterious phone calls that begin, and memory loss of conversations she’d apparently had all pile on Cass, weighing her down, until she feels like she’s losing her mind, or worse, she’s developing the disease that claimed her mother’s life, early onset dementia. Paris did a good job setting up Cass’s problems. For me, it was her fear that she might have EOD. However, that’s where any sympathy ended.
Paris’s novel isn’t layered with multiple plots and there are only a handful of characters. This makes the plot pretty predictable. But I kept reading. There were times I thought about putting The Breakdown aside, though I never did. The premise was interesting enough for me to continue. What held my attention was not her writing style, not much of a fan in this regard. Would have like to have seen what the characters were feeling as opposed to being told. What held my attention was wanting to know if my suspicions (garnered after reading 46 pages) of the culprit were right. And they were, with one exception. That added twist, though I suspected it before the end, was a nice surprise.
As the story moved on, Cass’s actions, or rather inaction, frustrated me. Cass would often talk about what she should do and then lose her nerve. Throughout the story, she never acted on her decisions, always changed her mind at the last minute and returned to the same ole same ole. I would have loved to have read where Cass acted on her impulse once and that put her in worse danger and her struggle to get out of that mess, rather than shrink from it. Toward the end, I’d hoped that all her scheming would have backfired on her and the police would suspect her because I was tired of her weakness.
Paris left her clues out in the open, so not much work for the reader. While I like the ending, I was not a fan of the replay of text messages. A few well-written text would have sufficed. I found myself skimming the messages, already knowing what I’d find. By then, the tension had slipped away from the story.
I wanted to like this book better than I did. Paris has a talent for storytelling, and I look forward to her next novel. Might even pick up Behind Closed Doors.
Thank you to St. Martin press for providing me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.