Beautiful Bad – Annie Ward @_Annie_Ward @QuercusBooks

Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry. . . . That something is really, really wrong with me.

Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD, her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie, and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, 16 years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 9-1-1 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

Beautiful Bad was published on the 21st March 2019. Thank you to Quercus for my copy of the book for review.

As Beautiful Bad opens, the author immediately introduces Maddie, who is researching online whether or not she needs to see a therapist – the reader is then drawn in through the next chapter entitled ‘The Day of the Killing’ with a powerful, almost voyeuristic view as to something traumatic – although what has exactly happened is left as mystery other than a panicked 911 call from a woman with a child.

Annie Ward then transports her reader back to the early 2000’s and commences to give the back story on Maddie, Ian and Jo. Maddie was a travel writer based in Bulgaria whilst her best friend, Jo, undertakes aid work across the border in the volatile Macedonia. Maddie and Jo meet some British bodyguards and Maddie has an instant attraction to Ian. The timelines continue to flit between this early period in a Balkans to a troubled marriage in the USA and then to the time immediately before the ‘day of the killing’. All the chapters are headed up with which period it is so I never felt confused with the timeline transitions…and I do love a dual timeline!!

For me, Ian was the best character – he’s having to deal with the realities of working in war zones, dealing with PTSD as a result of some of the things he has experienced as well as a challenging ex-girlfriend who cannot let go to say the least! Ian’s character is the one with the most depth who, whilst not always acting in the best way, intrigued me and was the one I wanted to know more about.

I wasn’t massively keen on the characters of either Maddie or Jo – supposedly best friends but their friendship was rocky and on the edge of an argument at any point. Maddie appeared to be at Jo’s beck and call but when Maddie did visit her, it was as though Jo didn’t want her there.

I really enjoyed Beautiful Bad, it was cleverly plotted out with its multi layered narrative. A great example of domestic noir and I look forward to reading more from Annie Ward.

Annie’s sophomore novel and first psychological thriller BEAUTIFUL BAD will be published by Harper Collins/Park Row books in March, 2019.

Annie received a BA in English Lit with an emphasis in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. While studying at AFI, she sold her first short screenplay to MTV/ BFCS Productions. Starring Adam Scott, STRANGE HABIT became a Grand Jury Award Winner at the Aspen Film Festival and a Sundance Festival Official Selection.

After film school, Annie moved to Eastern Europe to work for Fodor Travel Guides, covering regions of Spain and Bulgaria. She remained in Bulgaria for five years spanning a civilian uprising and government overthrow. The novel THE MAKING OF JUNE, which Annie wrote with the Bulgarian revolution and Balkan crisis as its backdrop was sold to Penguin Putnam and published to critical acclaim in 2002.

During Annie’s five years in the Balkans she received a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at the University of Sofia, and script doctored eight screenplays for Nu-Image, an Israeli/American film company that produced a number of projects in Bulgaria for the SyFy Channel. She was later the recipient of an Escape to Create artist residency.

She lives in Kansas City, Kansas with her family.

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