Book Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: William Morrow
Length: 312 pages
Whew, I definitely needed a moment to catch my breath after this one. In a word, No Bad Deed was wild. So wild, it admittedly required a fair bit of suspension of disbelief, but I do so enjoy books like these that are full of twists and high stakes. It’s the kind of suspense thrillers that I live for.
It all started one rainy night, while diving home from work, Cassie witnesses a man brutally beating a woman at the side of the road. As a veterinarian, our protagonist’s first instinct is to help those in need, prompting her to pull over right away to put a stop to the attack. That’s how she first meets Carver Sweet, a convicted murderer, who would have killed again if Cassie hadn’t intervened. Leaving his victim broken and bloody in a ditch, he issues a warning: “Let her die, and I’ll let you live.” Then he steals Cassie’s idling car and speeds away, along with everything in it—including her purse containing her keys, wallet and driver’s license. With that, a dangerous criminal now knows everything about her, including her name and where she lives.
Still, Carver’s words be damned, Cassie saves the injured woman’s life. After giving her statement to the cops and watching the ambulance carry the victim off, Cassie returns home to her family, informing her husband Sam of what happened and cautioning him to change the locks. They have an uneventful night, until the next day, Halloween. After working late again, Cassie comes home to an empty house, learning that her teenage son Leo had gone to a friend’s and that Sam had taken their young daughter Audrey out trick or treating. Thinking everything is fine, Cassie lets herself drift off to a nap…only to wake up to silence and darkness, filled with a sense of dread. It was late, and Sam and Audrey had not come home. Calls to Sam’s phone also go unanswered. Finally, Cassie decides to go out and look for her husband and daughter, to discover that Audrey had been left in the care of a neighborhood woman. Sam had told his six-year-old that he would be right back…but never returned.
Worried and confused, Cassie can’t help but think her husband’s disappearance has something to do with Carver Sweet, who has everything he needs to find out about her family, her job, her whole life. Since the woman she had saved last night had survived, is Carver now making good on his threat by first coming after those Cassie loves? Or is there something else going on with Sam, who had been growing distant and more secretive in the past few months? The police aren’t much help, as there’s evidence to suggest that Sam might have left willingly on his own. Of course, the possibility that her husband was having an affair devastates Cassie, but that still doesn’t explain why he would abandon Leo and Audrey, his children that he adored more than anything in the world. There’s more happening here that meets the eye, and Cassie intends to find out the truth, especially when it becomes clear that everyone close to her will remain in danger until she does.
Like many folks, I always try to predict the outcome whenever I’m reading a mystery or thriller, but there I was, trying to do the same with No Bad Deed and finding myself completely blindsided at every turn. Not gonna lie, the story employs no small amount of absurdity and plenty of over-the-top twists to achieve this, but my addiction to this novel was so complete that I was beyond caring about the odd logical leap. Quite honestly, I’m at a loss as to where to begin with my review, because I feel like any discussion of the aspects I enjoyed would risk giving away some of the plot—this book was simply the type of intricately layered, tightly wound thriller with tiny clues and traps connected at every level.
What I will say is I’ll never get tired of the amateur lady sleuth archetype that you tend to find in so many of these domestic suspense thrillers. Speaking of logical leaps, these stories always require the police to have their hands tied for whatever reason, leaving our protagonist with no choice but to take on the investigative duties herself. Thing is though, Cassie is a disaster when it comes to this kind of work. She’s impulsive, careless, utterly clueless as to how to cover her tracks or protect herself. But instead of feeling frustrated, I thought these traits further highlighted just how deep in over her head our protagonist was, which added to the entertainment. And of course, when it came to Leo and Audrey, Cassie was as fierce as a lioness defending her cubs. The love, loyalty, and tenacity she displayed made her an admirable character in my eyes, not to mention that at her core she is a good person—the kind who would work pro bono to save a dog, or to pull over in a rainstorm to stop a vicious attack even at the risk to her own life. It made it easy to root for her.
Despite its flaws (namely the more far-fetched parts of the story and some dunderheadedness on the protagonist’s part), I’m giving No Bad Deed high marks for being able to so thoroughly suck me in and for leaving me with a massive book hangover. One of the most exhilarating and compulsive thrillers I’ve read this year!