By Ekta R. Garg
August 13, 2018
Release date: June 19, 2018
Rated: Bypass it / 2 stars
After recovering from the disappearance of the woman he loved, a man begins to receive messages that indicate she might have returned. The man is trying to move on with his life but becomes more and more convinced that someone has other plans. Author B.A. Paris returns with another thriller that will leave readers unsatisfied and shaking their heads in dismay with Bring Me Back.
It’s been 12 years since Finn McQuaid’s fiancé, Layla, went missing. Not a week goes by that he hasn’t thought of the mysterious way she slipped away from his life. On the way home from a skiing trip, Finn stopped at a picnic area to use the restroom. When he came back to the car, Layla was no longer in it.
More than a decade later, Finn still can’t shake his unease about the situation. Still, he’s moved on, including meeting someone new. Ironically, even that normal act won’t let him forget Layla, because the person he’s now engaged to is her sister, Ellen.
By most accounts, the relationship developed through a natural series of events. The two met in the aftermath of Layla’s disappearance, became friends, then lovers, and now live together. Finn proposed to Ellen because he cares for her, but he also doesn’t want Ellen to compare herself to Layla or feel he doesn’t love her the same way he did her sister.
For the most part, Finn and Ellen are happy. Then Finn receives a call from the police detective who worked on Layla’s case. A former neighbor claims to have spotted Layla in town.
Finn tries to brush off his suspicions and even the budding hope that Layla has returned. A part of him has always loved her, and even though he had nothing to do with her disappearance he feels guilty for the way they fought not long before she went missing. Could it be that she left of her own will and now wants to give their relationship another chance?
He starts getting cryptic emails claiming to be from Layla, and Finn finds himself trapped between his current life and his former one. Other messages follow, and Finn begins lying to Ellen as well as his friends. He decides the only way to make peace with his past and Layla is to solve the mystery himself.
Author B.A. Paris’ third book outdoes the incredulity of her previous two novels. Smart readers will figure out about halfway through this latest thriller what’s actually going on and why Layla chooses to stay hidden instead of meeting Finn face to face. The “mysterious” emails become tedious as do the Russian dolls meant to be a key plot device. Readers will get impatient with Finn and Layla, and as the story unfolds that impatience is sure to give way to eyerolling.
Problematic, too, is Ellen’s passivity during the entire story until the climax. It’s only believable up to a certain point that she would remain so patient with Finn’s increasing aloofness toward her, and astute readers will question early on why she’s content to let Finn’s bizarre behavior fly without comment. In the world of thrillers, her lethargy in this scenario can only mean one of a few things. Paris reveals too much, most likely without intention, by her choices in Ellen’s characterization.
Readers wanting a quick-fix thriller in between more substantial, meaty books might like this one; otherwise, I recommend readers Bypass Bring Me Back.