Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (3.5 stars)
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.
B.A. Paris’s most recent thriller is an entertaining read, but it ultimately failed to impress—which is a shame, since it’s my first novel by an author I’ve heard so much about.
When someone starts sending Finn cryptic suggestions that his long-lost first love, Layla, may not be dead like everyone assumed, everything about the life he’s carefully crafted since that fateful night is suddenly in jeopardy … including his blossoming relationship with Layla’s sister, Ellen. Predictably, Finn keeps the growing list of strange occurrences and eventual threats secret from Ellen and the police. And, predictably, he’s been lying for a decade about what really happened when Layla disappeared, so he takes it upon himself to uncover whether she’s alive after all these years.
From the start, the characters feel very superficial and hard to connect with. It’s a struggle to muster any sympathy for Finn and his single-minded personality. Impenetrable characters usually heighten the intrigue around what they’re really hiding, but Finn’s “secret” fails to shock, and the anticlimactic truth about the night of Layla’s disappearance ten years ago casts a damper over the rest of the novel.
The same suspects cycle in and out of Finn’s spotlight, which grows repetitive quickly, and some of the clichéd threats he receives are cringe-worthy. My predictions about the twist were slightly off, so while the big reveal did garner a respectful nod, I still wasn’t invested enough in the plot to fully appreciate it.
Nevertheless, several of the secondary characters are enjoyable, including an ex-girlfriend that alternates between suspect and sounding board, and the Russian nesting doll aspect of the plot is delightfully creepy. Another plus is the structure of the first half of the novel, bouncing between the present and the past. The past thread is narrated by Finn as he directly addresses Layla, which is a unique and refreshing approach to the dual timeline.
Overall, Bring Me Back is a solid psychological suspense novel, but it just didn’t quite work for me. I struggled from the start to connect with the superficial characters and plot, but I did find parts to enjoy, and I’m still looking forward to reading more of B.A. Paris’s work in the future.
Warm thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.