“Bring Me Back” by B A Paris starts with thought-provoking first person comments from twelve years prior. “I should have been nearer. That was the statement I gave to the police… It was the truth. But not quite the whole truth.” Right from the start, we know he is not exactly truthful.
The tone of the story is suspenseful and tense right from the start. Layla is gone, except that being declared dead is not the same as being dead. Finn is haunted by his past and by Layla, so why he is engaged to marry Ellen, Layla’s sister? What else he is hiding? It should not matter since twelve years have passed, but it does. And now, someone has seen her, Layla.
The characters are stealthy, and it is not always clear who is narrating any particular portion. What is clear is, however, that is that there is a massive hidden mystery, and everyone has secrets of epic proportions. The conflict engages the reader and causes distrust in the narrator. Readers wonder page after page not only what will happen next but also what happened in France twelve years before. Here a little lie, there a little lie, everywhere lies, lies, and more lies.
The storyline is not linear, and chapters alternate back and forth in time to show how the past events shaped the present. Some chapters are directed to the reader; in others, the narrative is directed to Layla. Chapters also alternate between narrators to allow characters to tell the story in their own voices and from their own perspectives. Chapters are tagged to identify time frame and eventually the person communicating. The first person construction enhances the distrust because readers see the duplicity and are perplexed by the secrets. Little clues and misdirection in every chapter build to a shocking revelation.
Fun note — Layla is from the land of Peter May — Lewis, a remote island in the Outer Hebrides,
I received an advanced copy of “Bring Me Back” from B. A. Paris, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley. Paris created compelling characters and a suspenseful story that keeps readers turning pages to see what happens next. I highly recommend it with the caveat that that you should not schedule anything but reading because once you start you will not be able to put this down.