Heather, agreed to buddy-read it with me. I've been on a mystery kick lately and this book's premise seemed to fit the bill. BEAUTIFUL BAD is definitely Not Like Other Thrillers in the sense that, not only is it dual timeline (LOVE), it also takes place abroad, in places like Bosnia and Macedonia, and it covers the conflicts that were happening at that time, as well as 9/11 and what that looked like for soldiers on the front. I thought it was really interesting that the heroine, Maddie, was an international freelancer, that her friend was an NGO employee, and the guy the two of them ended up in conflict over was first a bodyguard and then a soldier. It made sense that these were the types of people who might be in Eastern Europe in the early 2000s.
The plot is a little more twisted and I don't want to say too much without giving major spoilers. Basically, we open the book finding out that someone was murdered. This timeline is called "The Day of the Killing." We don't know who, how, or why. Only that it was a bloody mess. In the 2001 chapters, we see Maddie as a young woman, hanging around with her friend Jo, at dive bars, where she meets a young Ian. Ian has more red flags than a colorguard, but despite him being a total fuckboy, she wants him anyway, even though it's clear that her BFF does not approve. In the other chapters, we see Maddie, a woman in her thirties with a child and marriage problems, troubled by various things. What things? SPOILERS.
I actually predicted the Big Twist pretty early on in the book (Heather can back me up). I have two moods about this. When I read a mystery, part of me definitely wants to be right, but part of me also wants to be surprised. Usually I review a book immediately after finishing it but I actually slept on this one because I wanted to think it over. I wasn't really sure how I felt about the twist. I have issues with thrillers that demonize mental illness-- I think I can say that much without spoilers, since every character in here suffers from their own particular brand of crazy. I'm not saying that mental illness can't lead to people committing crimes, but it's often sensationalized or portrayed as a cause rather than a symptom, and here, I just didn't really feel like the author laid enough groundwork for what she was trying to do and it came across as mighty convenient and intentionally shocking.
Overall, I did like this book and I'd definitely read more from her in the future, but this one was not really a fave and I found the ending a little disappointing after all.
3.5 out of 5 stars