Bring Me Back is a suspense novel that just doesn’t quite work. Despite some moments of decent suspense, the ending reveals a premise that makes little sense. I just couldn’t buy what the author is selling with this one.
Twelve years ago, Finn and Layla are on a road trip. Finn pulls over at a rest stop to use the facilities and when he gets back to the car Layla has vanished. At least, that’s the story Finn told the police. Finn spends the next several years searching for Layla and mourning her loss. Although they had only been together for about a year, Finn loved her in a weirdly obsessive way. Twelve years later, he seems to be finally getting on with his life, which includes plans to marry Ellen,… Layla’s sister.
When the wedding is announced in the paper, things start happening that lead Finn and Ellen to believe Layla is still alive and has resurfaced. For example, Ellen thinks she saw Layla in a nearby town. Additionally, little Russian dolls start to show up. So. Many. Russian. Dolls. (overdone device)
The dolls have a special meaning from Layla and Ellen’s childhood and so Ellen and Finn take it as a sign that Layla really is back. But she’s taunting them with the dolls. This is a cat and mouse game designed to drive a wedge between Finn and Ellen. And it’s working. Layla wants Finn back and the feeling is mutual. Deceit and poor judgment follow in abundance. Finn hides information from Ellen. Ellen seems to be harboring her own secrets. Their fragile relationship falls apart as they continue to pursue the truth about Layla.
There were moments of decent tension in the plot, but mostly I didn’t care what happened to these tedious, selfish people. Finn in particular was a character with no character. His obsession with Layla was strange and, after twelve years, hard to believe. He was ready to dump his fiancée immediately upon learning that Layla might still be alive. Treacherous jerk. And he was willing to do this despite the fact that Layla appeared to be playing games with him.
But mostly I didn’t like this book because the conclusion, and therefore the premise of the entire novel, was deeply unrealistic.
Ellen is really Layla in disguise. She disguised herself by adopting her sister’s mannerisms, losing weight, dying her hair and erasing her freckles. Seriously? The guy who was obsessed with Layla couldn’t tell he was actually living and sleeping with Layla? Nope. No way. I am willing to suspend a little bit of belief when reading these types of stories, but not that much. This was a stretch and it didn’t work for me at all.
My recommendation is to pick a better suspense novel to read.