The Back Road: Rachel Abbot

101 things in 1001 days

Afternoon bloggers. Another review from the list I am currently working my way through, recommended by friends of mine. This one comes from the rather wonderful Rachel Brown; a work colleague, friend and generally lovely person, this lady never fails to put a smile on my face, so thank you for recommending another wonderful book. Unfortunately, I’m currently not feeling particularly well, and although this could be a mix of travelling home every weekend, not getting enough sleep and not eating particularly well, I am having a weekend off for some Lizzy time so lots more reading will be done and I cannot wait!

 A girl lies close to death in a dark, deserted lane. 

A driver drags her body to the side of the road. 

A shadowy figure hides in the trees, watching and waiting.

The small community of Little Melham is in shock. For Ellie Saunders, last night’s hit and run on the back road could destroy everything she has. She was out that night, but if she reveals where she was and why, her family will be torn apart. She is living on a knife-edge, knowing that her every move is being observed. Ellie’s new neighbour, former Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas has moved to the village for some well-deserved peace and quiet, but as he is drawn into the web of deceit his every instinct tells him that what happened that night was more than a tragic accident. As past and present collide, best-kept secrets are revealed and lives are devastated. Only one person knows the whole story. And that person will protect the truth no matter what the cost. The Back Road is an electrifying thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Slight admission; I actually listened to this book on audible rather than reading it. Mumma B realised that she had logged a number of credits on Amazon and sent over her details for me to have a little wander around and I thought it would be the perfect time to get hold of some of the lovely books recommended. It was a different experience but I really enjoyed it and have since downloaded a couple more. The story revolves mainly between two female characters, Ellie and Leo, who are thrown together by their solicitously polygamist father. Ellie’s mother is vivaciously opposed to this and raises Leo with appalling hate and anger especially after the mysterious disappearance of their father. Leo, once old enough leaves, and only returns to the house once her stepmother has died. Returning to the house, which Ellie now resides in, the two, must work to re-build their relationship. However, both have demons haunting them; Ellie currently is being stalked by a man who thinks that she is in love with him and Leo is incredibly wary of trusting people, especially men. Leaving yellow roses and calling and texting at all times in the day Ellie’s stalker starts to unravel the world that Ellie has created. As Leo becomes suspicious, the little village is rocked by a terrible crime. A young girl is hit on the back road; the problem is that, as the police begin to piece together what happened that eventful night, different characters are going to have to reveal secrets they never thought they would have to disclose based on their whereabouts that night. The story weaves deftly, bringing characters together whilst disclosing their fears, secrets, lies and deceit brought about by the terrible hit and run.

This story definitely packed a punch of action mixed with spine tingling scenes of mystery. The author keeps her cards close to her chest at all times making the reader piece together each part of the story piece by piece. For a long time we have no idea of the stalker or the mysterious hit or run characters and unlike some authors who let the reader know before the characters this was not the case in this instance. The characters are strongly built and wildly contrasting, especially Leo and Ellie which allowed for interesting scenes and conversations between the two especially about relationships. The novel features many shocking events including sabotage, abduction, domestic abuse and affairs but they are built in slowly so they don’t seem too over the top or unbelievable. I also liked the contrast between the past story of Abby (the girl that is in the hit and run) and the past story of Ellie and Leo. The contrasts and similarities were an interesting sub-plot. Supporting characters are vividly written especially Max and Tom, which helps to make the story more about the village than just the two main characters and allows a romantic subplot to evolve. The writing is strong and unfaltering and builds tension throughout; when I got towards the end I was finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else and sat for hours listening on. The story is saturated with a depressive feel however it helps to really convey the pain that the characters are feeling.

Few problems; Ellie at times is frustratingly naïve and weak and this does start to grate on the reader. I found myself wanting to shake her and say, open your eyes and look at what is going on. I know it’s written to evoke those emotions but it started becoming a little too clichéd especially relating to the claims of an affair that Max is having, (or not having?) The writing also isn’t terribly descriptive; I would have liked more description into the village and the characters. Although their personality traits were well formulated I was picturing them from my own imagination rather than being given an idea of what they were like visually. Additionally I found that Abbot kept going back and summarising past points, as if saying, don’t miss this important bit of information, but I didn’t and I kind of guessed what was happening because of this. I’d rather be kept in the dark and then hit with it, rather than being constantly fed information.It created a rocky feel between Aboot keeping her cards to her but feeding out little summaries. Additionally, the ending is a little wishy-washy and although it’s supposed to make you keep thinking after the book is finished I didn’t get that exhilarant feeling for some reason. 

Overall, this is a book with many twists and turns focusing on some very interesting and thought provoking events. The characters are well balanced and the tension is sustained throughout. A few complaints but definitively worth a read!
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