The Back Road

October 24, 2013 Book Reviews 1 ★★★

The Back Road three-stars
on 03/18/2013
Pages: 429
Format: eARC

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In a quiet country village, secrets abound.

When a young girl, Abbie Campbell, is knocked over and left for dead on the back road of the village of Little Melham, waves of shock ripple through the small community and a chain of events, which threatens to expose long-kept secrets, is triggered.

For Ellie Saunders, the truth about that night puts both her marriage and the safety of her children in jeopardy–she has to protect her family, no matter what the cost. And Ellie isn’t the only one with something to hide. She and her sister Leo believe they have put their troubled childhood behind them, but Leo’s quest for the truth reveals a terrible secret that has lain hidden for years.

Ellie’s neighbour, former detective Tom Douglas, has escaped to Little Melham in search of a quiet life, but finds himself drawn into the web of deceit as his every instinct tells him that what happened to young Abbie was far more than a tragic accident.

In this gripping novel, the peaceful English countryside belies the horrible truths that lurk beneath the trimmed hedgerows, behind the closed doors of smart sitting rooms and within unspoken conversations.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review by Travis Starnes

The Back Road is a thriller about the secrets that surround Ellie Saunders, her family and her friends.  The tale is punctuated with murder, stalking and a whole lot of lying.  I will start by saying that I did not love this book.  It wasn’t terrible but I found some the book off-putting.

Generally the book is well written.  Rachel Abbott is clearly a talented writer and the story does have a decent flow to it.  It should be noted that this is the slow psychological style of thriller and not the heart racing, fast moving story that many thrillers have become.  Abbott is focused on weaving a complex story and trying to keep the reader on edge, and for the most part she is successful. I found the dialog particularly well written.  In so many thrillers the conversations are either weird expositions that sound strangely unnatural or collections of one-liners trying hard to be clever.  The author rises above that however and most of the dialogue flows naturally and comes off as believable for the various characters.

The characters themselves are an interesting lot.  It is a small enough group that they are well constructed and fleshed out, which is nice to see.  Abbott also pulled no punches when writing them.  While some are very sympathetic and likable she managed to write others as truly nasty people that you can’t help but hate.  It is a good balance of characters, although some of their backstories do not work completely.  She relied a bit too heavily on characters inheriting money and if this book was a guide then everyone in England has a wealthy relative ready to hand out money when they pass away.  That one complaint about the characters aside they all worked for me, both the ones I liked and the ones I hated.

There is one major flaw that really made this book a little tough to read.  Abbott was very focused on the mystery part of the tale, specifically hiding the identity of the main antagonist.  While it is nearly half the book until that character is reveled for who they are, you still get large sections of the book that are told from the antagonist point of view.  The ham handed way that Abbott tries to write for the character while never telling their name is very distracting.  I can’t help but feel this book would have been significantly better had we just known who the person was and followed an interesting story.  As it is the reader is forced to shift through sections of the book trying very hard to be clever but coming off as annoying.

That complaint aside this isn’t a bad book.  It is well written with fairly interesting characters.  If you like a suspenseful who-done-it tale half disguised as a thriller then this book might work for you.  For me, I didn’t hate it but I also didn’t love it.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.1

One Response to “The Back Road”

  1. Rene Smith

    I couldn’t get through this book. I’ve read your other reviews and I’m surprised you didn’t hate it based on my impression of your taste in general! I found the dialogue pretentious and the whole thing was just trying too hard to keep me reading. I didn’t like the way the characters were written either…I suppose you could interpret them as nuanced, but I just saw it as overdone. It was like watching a bunch of amateur performers overacting a bad play.

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