Beautiful Bad, a new thriller by Annie Ward, centers around a trio of characters: Maddie, Ian, and Jo, all three are troubled in their own ways. Maddie narrates the story and Ward makes you empathize with her from the beginning as she reveals her toxic relationship with Ian within the first few pages. You know early on that a murder or attempted murder has occurred, but you are unsure of who did it and who was involved. The novel jumps around in time, between the ‘Day of the Killing’ and flashbacks to Maddie, Jo and Ian’s time in the Balkans and the weeks leading up to the murder. As more details are revealed, the reader questions what the truth really is.
Mystery and thriller novels are not normally my go-to genre but the book summary intrigued me so I thought I’d give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got sucked into the story, which I finished in a matter of days. Ward has an MFA in screenwriting, and you can really see that influence in the way the story unfolds. I didn’t like reading the parts told from Ian’s point of view; they felt more stilted than the rest of the book. The story didn't seem all that original but it still kept me hooked and wanting more.
A little thing: the font used to indicate Maddie's writing also drove me crazy while I was reading!
If you like reading thrillers with unreliable narrators that make you read between the lines to figure out what is really going on, this book is for you!