Review: Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

Title: Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 317 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The riveting follow up to Jessica Barry’s debut Freefall—a controversial, of-the-moment thriller about two women fighting for their right to live. 

322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer. Too many secrets.

Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight.  Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it’s punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they’ve worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them.  Someone wants one of them dead. But which one?  And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. . . .


Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry is a spellbinding mystery.

In her mid-twenties, Cait Monaghan is an aspiring journalist working as a bartender.  After a drunken one night stand with a rising country singer, she anonymously writes an article about her scary experience with him. Although her post goes viral, Cait’s hopes of getting more articles published are dashed. She finds satisfaction doing volunteer work but she is eventually outed as the author of article and she fears for her safety.

Cait nonetheless continues her volunteer work and she picks up her latest passenger, Rebbeca McRae in Lubbock, TX. The two women are driving to Albuquerque in the dead of night and their journey quickly turns menacing. Cait thinks whomever is behind the wheel is after her whereas Rebecca believes she is the target.  No matter who this person is after, the two woman must work together to save themselves when the situation turns dire.

After controversy hits, Cait entertains a few self-doubts but she knows what happened to her was not only wrong but dangerous. She is relieved that no one at the bar recognizes she is at the heart of the current  media storm.  At first, Cait is unconcerned about her safety, but once her address becomes public knowledge, she remains vigilant and very worried.

While working as a volunteer Cait is very careful to make sure no one is around when she makes her pick up. So during her current assignment, she keeps a close watch to make sure no one is following them. But she becomes worried during one of their stops and they immediately get back on the road. But once they leave the small town behind, someone begins toying with them. When disaster strikes, both Cait and Rebecca are terrified and hope they are not putting their trust in the wrong person. The two women soon breathe a sigh of relief, but is the danger truly behind them?

Don’t Turn Around is an absolutely mesmerizing mystery that is fast-paced and engrossing. The storyline is topical and well-executed. The characters are well-developed with relatable flaws and unexpected strengths. The isolated setting ratchets up the tension and danger as Cait and Rebecaa attempt to outwit their pursuer. With plenty of edge of the seat suspense, Jessica Barry brings this clever mystery to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommend to readers of the genre.

Just a note: I live in one of the New Mexico towns mentioned in the novel and I can attest to the accuracy of the desolate drive in its entirety. Sections of the highway can be deserted even in the daytime and driving at night is very eerie!

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