Desert Isle Keeper
No Bad Deed
I so enjoy when a book seeps into my psyche and elicits a strong emotional response. Début author Heather Chavez’s bingeable thriller, No Bad Deed, gave me a jump scare to end all jump scares. While engrossed in reading an especially creepy chapter of No Bad Deed, I was instantly terrified when someone I didn’t recognize entered our bedroom unannounced. In an adrenaline-spiked frenzy, I leapt from bed, hovered in midair for several seconds, and reflexively hurled a stuffed animal against the wall with manic force. I had been fairly certain that I was the victim of a home invasion. Alas, it was only my husband who had returned home late from a movie. #yesthisreallyhappened
In No Bad Deed, Chavez posits a horrific situation in which the proverb, ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ is perverted to the extreme. While driving home from work one evening, Cassie Larkin stops to help a woman who is being savagely beaten by a man at the side of the freeway. As Cassie attempts to save the female victim, the attacker cryptically threatens to let Cassie live if she lets the battered woman die. The well-intentioned Cassie, a veterinarian, wife, and mother of two, refuses to neglect a woman in need. The assailant flees in Cassie’s van, which contains her phone and identification. The police are called to the scene and identify the dangerous criminal as wanted murderer Carver Sweet. Cassie fears that she and her family are unsafe, but she is assured by law enforcement that Carver wouldn’t have anything to gain by pursuing her.
On the next evening, which just happens to be Halloween (how appropriate), Cassie’s husband Sam inexplicably disappears while trick-or-treating with their six-year-old daughter, Audrey. Given their recent marital issues, Cassie fears that Sam has left her. But as Sam is Audrey and teenage son Leo’s primary caregiver, Cassie can’t accept that he abandoned them. As Cassie desperately searches for answers and faces difficult truths about her marriage, she and her loved ones are systematically tormented by Carver. Despite the physical threat, Cassie vows to do whatever it takes to find Sam and to keep her children safe.
No Bad Deed delivers captivating suspense, villainy of the highest order, and a wry-humored protagonist whom you cheer on to win. Cassie fights off Carver with a tenacity that will reaffirm your trust in all that is good in this world. In saving another’s life, Cassie puts herself and her family in the crosshairs of a dangerous criminal. When Sam disappears, she is unsure if he simply wanted out of their troubled marriage, or if this is part of Carver’s retribution. Adding to Cassie’s torment is her internal struggle with her pre- and post-Sam personas. In her youth, Cassie was impulsive, volatile and lived life with a devil-may-care attitude, but she cast aside that identity when she met Sam and they created a life together. However, recent events have aroused that long-suppressed side of her. Not only does Chavez craft a wonderfully layered protagonist, but she creates a cunning antagonist who infiltrates almost every aspect of Cassie’s personal life. The violation of privacy and personal space, which is quite possible in today’s day and age of accessibility, is absolutely chilling.
While Chavez is adept at escalating tension, character development, and raising stakes, I admit that a few unbelievable coincidences and ridiculously lucky breaks took me out of the story. And, the ending, while very satisfying, was somewhat predictable. Nonetheless, I was an enthusiastic passenger throughout this roller-coaster of a novel, waving my arms in the air until the ride came to a complete stop. Kudos to Heather Chavez! No Bad Deed is a thoroughly captivating read replete with thrilling twists and shocking reveals that aren’t easily forgotten.