Beautiful Bad

Beautiful BadThings that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry… That something is really, really wrong with me.

Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.




Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward delves into truly ugly lies and deceit.  It takes the reader to some interesting locations, third world countries as well as more affluent settings.   Although the characters are interesting, they’re not very likeable.

I questioned friendship and trust throughout the entire reading of this novel.  Maddie and Jo have been friends for a long time but what is true friendship to them?  Both women are well traveled, highly educated and have interesting jobs:  Jo works for nonprofit organizations helping women and children in war-torn countries, Maddie is a travel writer.  Maddie travels to Macedonia often to visit Jo, or is she really going to visit Ian?

Ian works for the British military and then opens a security business with his brother.  He suffers from PTSD and is living on the edge.  He is drawn to Maddie but still maintains contact with a former girlfriend.  Ian and Jo were friends in the beginning, but Jo quickly takes a disliking to him.  Is it because of his interest in Maddie or is there something else going on there?

The story switches between the past and the present and is told by multiple narrators.  It begins with a 911 call and then immediately flashes back to the beginning.  The interweaving between the past and the present leads to unforeseen plot twists and at times some confusion.

Beautiful Bad is fascinating at times but there were also times when I just got lost in unnecessary detail.  There is a lot going on in this story which slowed down the pacing a bit.

Thank you NetGalley for the review copy.

3.5 stars

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