Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Title: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A devoted wife, a loving husband and a chilling murder that no one saw coming.

Things 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 love story 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; 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 is a suspenseful, tension-filled domestic mystery.

Maddie and Ian Wilson first meet in the war torn Balkans in 2001 when he is a British soldier working as a bodyguard and she is completing a year as an English teacher. Introduced to each other by Maddie’s best friend Jo Jaskinki, Maddie makes the difficult eight hour journey to spend time with Jo while hoping to see Ian. The two friends have a falling out just as Maddie is returning home following 9/11. Maddie and Ian stay in touch over the years until he breaks her heart when he fails to show up at their arranged meeting. Fast forward a few years, and the timing finally works for the star-crossed couple. Now married with a three year old son, Maddie is in therapy while Ian is temporarily working in Nigeria. Upon his return, tragedy strikes but is there more to the shocking events that occurred on The Day of the Killing?

Opening with a frantic 911 call, the narrative then moves back and forth between the present and the twelve weeks leading up to the murder. Mostly narrated from Maddie’s point of view, she is therapy to help her cope with the severe anxiety and strange fears she is currently experiencing from a recent fall. Although she has no memories of the accident that occurred on a camping trip with Ian and their son, the police are convinced her injuries were from domestic violence. Through her sessions with Cami J, she provides insight into her difficult years after returning the United States, her estranged friendship with Jo and a snapshot of her life with Ian. A shocking picture begins to emerge but what exactly happened The Day of the Killing?

Beautiful Bad is an absolutely enthralling mystery with a very troubled narrator. Is Maddie’s account of her friendship with Jo and her marriage to Ian entirely accurate? Chapters from Ian’s perspective fill in some of these missing gaps and provide an interesting peek into his life between the Balkans and reuniting with Maddie. Annie Ward cleverly builds anticipation with chapters in the present that are presented from Officer Diane Varga’s point of view as she  responds the 911 call from the Wilson household.  As the story inches closer and closer to truth about The Day of the Killing, readers will be stunned as the novel comes an unpredictable yet thrilling conclusion. An outstanding mystery that fans of the genre are going to love.


Filed under Annie Ward, Beautiful Bad, Contemporary, Mystery, Park Row Books, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

2 Responses to Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

  1. I definitely have to add this one to my list! Thanks for being on this tour.

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours