No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

The Blurb On The Back:

You’re driving home from work to your husband and children.

Suddenly a woman is in front of your car.  She’s being attacked.

You call the police and they tell you to stay in your car.

But what if you got out to help?  What might the consequences be?

You save the woman, but the attacker takes your handbag.  And your car.

And then, the next day, when you think it’s all over, your husband disappears.

He’s gone without a trace.

And then he texts you.  I’m sorry.

But is it really him?

Nothing could prepare you for what happens next …

Driving home one rainy night, Cassie Larkin sees a man attacking a woman on the side of the road and makes a split-second decision that will throw her sedate suburban life into chaos.  Against all reason and advice, she gets out of her car to help.

She saves the woman, but while she helps the victim, the attacker steals her car.  Now he has her name.  Her address.  And he knows about her children.

The next day – Halloween – her husband disappears while trick-or-treating with their six-year-old daughter.  Are these disturbing events a coincidence or the beginning of a horrifying nightmare?

As she desperately searches for answers, Cassie discovers that nothing is as random as it seems, and that she is more than willing to fight – to go to the most terrifying extremes – to save her family and her marriage.  

You can order No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Dr Cassie Larkin is a veterinarian who works and lives in Santa Rosa, California with her husband Sam (a high school teacher) and their children 17-year-old Leo and 6-year-old Audrey.  She works long hours at her job, which means she’s not always there for her family so that Sam has to pick up a lot of the slack, and she worries that it may lead their marriage to fail.

One night, as she’s driving home from work, she witnesses a man attacking a woman.  She calls 911 and is advised to stay in her car and wait for the police to arrive, but when she sees the man pull a knife, she knows that she has to intervene.  She saves the woman’s life but the man flees, stealing her car, which has her handbag in it.  She’s concerned that he’ll use it to find out where she lives but Detective Ray Rico assures her that the suspect – Carver Sweet – won’t go near her house.

The next day is Halloween.  Sam takes Audrey trick-or-treating but abandons her during the evening and disappears.  Several hours later, he sends Cassie a text message saying that he’s sorry.  Everyone thinks that Sam her left her but Cassie doesn’t believe that he’d do so in such a dramatic way and is sure this has something to do with Carver Sweet.  As she tries to track Sam down though, she discovers that he’s been keeping secrets and that something sinister is going on – something that will threaten everything that Cassie thought she knew and everything she holds dear …

Heather Chavez’s debut thriller heavily relies on the reader suspending their disbelief and I found it too difficult to overlook the coincidences and contrivances that build the plot to enjoy it – especially as the antagonist proves to be from the stereotypical “bad and mad” stable that made me roll my eyes – such that although it is a pacy read, I can’t say I’ll rush to read her next novel. 

It’s difficult to set out the various reasons why this book didn’t work for me without straying heavily into spoiler territory, so I’ll try to keep my comments as general as I can.  

I picked the book up because I liked the idea of someone who witnesses something awful and tries to help out, only to have it backfire on them.  Although I think Chavez works too hard to establish Cassie’s reasons for trying to help the woman she sees being attacked, it is a credible situation.  However, Sweet’s reaction to her intervention immediately rings false, as does the initial response of Detective Rico and by the time Sam goes missing I was finding it difficult to suspend my disbelief – especially the lack of any urgency on the part of the police, despite knowing how dangerous Sweet is.  

To be fair, Chavez keeps the action moving so there’s no lull in the events but as the twists start to come (some of which are signalled way too early) my interest really began to wane.  Some of this is due to Cassie’s character – I never quite bought into her as a woman too busy at work to focus on her family (and yet who’s so furious at her father’s refusal to help her daughter that she hasn’t spoken to him in a number of years) but it’s also because once you figure out what the background to this is likely to be (and I did guess it) it makes the story way too predictable while simultaneously adding to the sense of disbelief that you have suspend in order to get there.  Chavez tries to give Cassie some action cred by bringing out her wild child youth but her antics stand at odds with her inability to tackle Sam’s disappearance without relying on her friends (who, handily, have expert computer and Photoshop skills)

Ultimately this is one of those books where the premise just didn’t deliver for me and I’m not sure that I’d rush to read Chavez’s next book on the back of it.   

NO BAD DEED will be released in the United Kingdom on 20th February 2020.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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