Opening with a desperate call to 911, Beautiful Bad will have you on the edge of your seat as the responder enters the house to find a pool of blood. Taking a step back, Annie Ward introduces Maddie, a former travel writer living in Kansas with her husband and son. Badly scarred in an accident on a camping trip, she turns to writing therapy with a psychologist to help control her fears and anxiety.
Maddie’s story begins in 2001. Living in Bulgaria, she frequently travels to Macedonia to visit her best friend Joanna, employed by a relief agency. On one of her visits she meets Ian who is serving with the British army on a protection detail. As they grow closer on subsequent visits, Joanna grows more distant and hostile until the friendship is ended. When Maddie’s time in Bulgaria ends she returns to work in America, but her thoughts are filled with Ian. Ian eventually quits the military and forms a security company with his brother.
Ian’s job has taken him to hot spots around the world. He suffers from PTSD, drinks and has had episodes of violence in his past, but he loves Maddie and swears he will change. The birth of his son Charlie brings some changes to Ian, but spending months at a time away from the family, often in hostile situations, sours their relationship shortly after his return.
It is this toxic relationship that leads to the call for help. Ward builds tension by alternating Maddie and Ian’s story with The Day of the Killing and its aftermath. While the book was a true page-turner, Ward’s conclusion will leave you stunned.