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Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.
Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.
Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?
A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.
There will be spoilers here, so if you’re planning to read this one and haven’t, this is your warning to come back and read this review later.
This is my second attempt at a B.A. Paris book, and much like the first one, Behind Closed Doors, I just can’t recommend it. The description itself gave me a bit of pause – Finn’s girlfriend, Layla, disappeared ten years ago, and he was the main suspect. He’s been cleared because there wasn’t really any evidence against him, but no one ever figured out exactly what happened to Layla.
Now Finn is dating Layla’s sister, Ellen, and they just got engaged. Which…. how does that work exactly? We find out later that Ellen and Finn didn’t meet while Finn and Layla were dating, so the first time they meet, he’s under suspicion for Layla’s disappearance. This is how they meet? He’s under suspicion for possibly murdering her sister, and she decides to date him?
As soon as they get engaged, Ellen starts finding Russian nesting dolls all over the place, which she takes as a sign that Layla isn’t dead, she’s alive, and she’s back. (Layla collected Russian nesting dolls as a kid) Finn starts receiving MysteriousEmails™️ that make him even more sure that she’s alive, but maybe not, but maybe, which causes him to start rethinking his entire relationship with Ellen because he misses Layla so much. Or something.
One of the biggest disappointments of this book was the writing. Even though I didn’t enjoy Behind Closed Doors, I thought B.A. Paris was a good writer. The writing in Bring Me Back was much weaker. There was almost no showing, just telling, and the characters were flat and one-dimensional.
We discover about halfway through the book that Layla is alive, of course she is. I watched way too much Days of Our Lives and All My Children growing up to believe that anyone is dead when the body is never found. Her reasons for disappearing were understandable, but the rest of her decisions are convoluted and make no sense. Why she decided to stay away for 12 years, why she’s decided to show back up now. I read those sections multiple times and I still don’t understand what made her show herself, especially to Finn, considering her reasons for leaving in the first place.
And the Big Twist was…. frankly, it was laughable. It requires a suspension of disbelief to a level that I’m simply not capable of. And it made characters who were already badly drawn to turn into caricatures.
Much like B.A. Paris’s first book, Behind Closed Doors, this book just doesn’t hold up under the smallest bit of scrutiny. I think the problem is this combination. B.A. Paris and I just don’t seem to be a good match.