Title: The Breakdown
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 336 pages
Available: 20 June 2017
It’s a dark and stormy night, literally, at the opening of B.A. Paris’ The Breakdown. Cass, a happily married woman who recently lost her mother to early onset dementia, takes a backroad home from a party and comes across a woman parked in the rain in a pull off. Cass can see the woman, but can’t see the anyone else in the car. When the woman doesn’t try and get out of her car, Cass decides to keep driving. But the next morning Cass hears a woman’s been murdered: the woman she passed by on the way home.
” . . . the stories that Rachel used to tell me when we were young flood my mind: about people who stop for someone who’s broken down, only to find there’s an accomplice waiting to steal their car, of drivers who leave their cars to help an injured deer lying in the road only to be brutally attacked and find that the whole thing was staged.”
— Location 76
What Cass comes to realize is that she knows the woman who was murdered. This, along with mysterious, silent phone calls, gives birth to a deep paranoia. A paranoia that’s only made worse by the fact that she’s begun to forget things just like her mother had. Cass begins to turn from a happy school teacher into the perfect picture of a hysterical woman.
” . . . when I get to the end, I can see that she has no idea what to say because she can no longer pretend that I’m suffering from burnout.”
— Location 2065
This chilling tale goes deeper than one woman’s struggle to pull herself back together after a murder so close to home. Cass’s story echoes the struggle of the validity of a woman’s feelings. Paris forces the reader to come to terms with their own ideas of what makes a woman “hysterical”. Is Cass a narrator we can trust, or is this all happening in her head?
The Breakdown will keep its readers up all night, part from fear and part from needing to find out the truth.