Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward is tough book to review. I didn't hate this book but I can't say that I loved it either. It started off so well - straight into a the scene of a murder and the police coming to the house after a frantic 911 call. It then jumps back and forth through time and tells the story of Maddie, Ian and Jo. At times I found it to be very slow and then others I was fascinated.
Ian and Maddie met 16 years ago in Europe. Ian was in the British Army and Maddie a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo was an aid worker. They did not exactly hit off straight away and Jo was not a fan at all. They meet in various places around the world for the next 16 years. Now they are married and have a son, Charlie. Ian is not a pleasant man at all and I did not see the attraction. He is controlling and does not give Maddie a happy life. Without giving anything away it is hard to say much more about the story.
It is certainly a different way of telling the story but I wasn't completely sold on it. I did enjoy parts of this book.
“What do you fancy? The throat or the crap?” He pushed the menu in front of me. It was immediately obvious to me that whoever had translated “trout” and “carp” for the English menu had made some very unfortunate spelling errors.
The toothless octogenarian playing the accordion suddenly fell upon our table like a vampire bat on a herd of cows, and I started digging through my wallet for a tip.
“You could never be just another one of the flock,” Ian said, leaning close to me and looking into my eyes. One of his fingers batted at my hair. “Your wool is far too dark.”
And all the while I was sitting there getting my head wrapped in foil like it was a giant baked potato, these girls kept bringing me drinks. In retrospect I see very clearly that I should have been suspicious of a salon that felt the need to get you drunk before you see the results of their handiwork.
Something profound had happened to me just before I lost consciousness. At the exact second that I gave up all hope of surviving, my mind sparkled with unhinged, ecstatic, unbridled euphoria, a joy of such magnitude that I was instantly captive to it, and of a replete and searing sensuousness so irresistible that I opened my mouth to take it all in more deeply. I knew with utmost certainty, as it were as simple as two plus two or the sky is blue, that there was nothing at all to fear.
My mind is still processing this compelling tale, it was ingenious and frustrating, and mesmerizing, and maddeningly paced all the way to the chilling end. The characters were a train wreck, and much like arriving at a train wreck I couldn’t look away; they fascinated, vexed, intrigued, antagonized, annoyed, and held me captive to my Kindle. I wasn’t sure who was the most disturbed as they were both over the edge and a hazard to themselves and others. The storylines were intensely absorbing, deviously plotted, and distressingly tantalizing. The narrative thrummed with tension and I read with a ratcheting sense of apprehension. Ms. Ward’s writing was lushly descriptive, profoundly observant, and hauntingly addictive. I fear I will be ruminating on this one for days and am in need a glass of wine or ten. It was brilliant, unsettling, yet brilliant nonetheless.