Book report: BA Paris ‘Take me back’
Bring Me Back is a thriller by the writer BA Paris. The writer is known for Behind closed doors and Broken. In Bring Me Back Layla, Finn’s girlfriend, disappears while on vacation in France. Twelve years later, Finn has built a new life with Ellen, whom he will soon marry. But then he learns that someone has seen Layla and Ellen finds a Russian doll, which is a link to Layla. Could it be that Layla is still alive or is someone playing a game with Finn’s feelings?
- Main characters
- Symbols and motifs
- Title statement and book cover
- Structure and perspective / way of telling
- Time and place
- Original title: Bring me back
- Title: Bring me back
- Author: BA Paris
- First print: 2018
- First edition translated into Dutch: 2018
- Translation: Ireen Niessen
- Number of pages: 324
- ISBN: 978 90 263 4294 3
Twelve years earlier
On the way back from a short skiing holiday, Finn makes a stop to go to the toilet. When he returns, he sees that his girlfriend Layla is no longer in the car. He assumes she also went to the toilet. But after a while he notices that she is nowhere to be found and he panics.
Tony Heddon, the detective who informs Finn about the Layla case, calls him with a bizarre story about Finn and Layla’s old neighbor, who is convinced he had seen Layla. He had called her and when she saw him she had run away.
When Finn comes home he sees his fiancé Ellen, Layla’s sister, with a small Russian doll in hand. Finn immediately thinks of Layla. Ellen and Layla each had a set of Matryoshkas as a child. When Ellen lost the smallest Russian doll, she was convinced that her sister Layla had taken it. But he claimed to have nothing to do with this. Ever since, Layla kept her own doll close, like a talisman, for fear that Ellen would ever take hers away. And now Ellen had found such a doll for the house.
Not much later, Ellen is in town with Finn when she is convinced to see her sister. She follows Layla but loses sight of her. Finn finds a Russian doll under the windshield wiper of their car, but says nothing to Ellen.
Finn receives a bizarre email from a man named Rudolph Hill asking if he is going to sell the cottage now that he is getting married to the sister. Finn wonders who Rudolph Hill is and how he knows he still owns the cottage that Layla loved so much. Even Ellen doesn’t know this. After a few messages, the question arises what Finn would think if Layla was still alive. Finn does not feel like playing games and when asked where she is, he gets the answer ‘Here’. Could it be that Rudolph Hill is Layla’s kidnapper and had taken her captive for 12 years?
Finn remembers the night Layla disappeared. They got into a fight after Layla told him she had cheated on him. Finn had dragged Layla out of the car, shook it up, and yelled at her. He had gone to the toilet building to calm down. And when he returned and did not see Layla, he assumed she was hiding out of fear. But even though Finn said he was sorry. Layla did not return. He knew he had to go to the police with a different story or he would be in trouble.
Finn wants to meet Rudolph Hill, who sends him the messages, and unexpectedly agrees to meet up the next day. The hint he gets refers to Pharos Hill, a place that had been important to Layla and him. When he arrives, he only finds a Russian doll. Could it be that Layla is behind the emails?
Finn tells his story to Ruby, with whom he has been together for a while. Ruby suspects that Layla has seen Finn and Ellen’s wedding announcement and is now reaching out to him. Fearing that Layla is vulnerable, she suggests that Finn send her an email and make it clear that he has chosen Ellen.
Finn feels he is losing control when he realizes that Layla is indeed behind the emails. Especially when she demands that he tell Ellen that she is still alive and that she will do it differently herself. Ellen herself also feels that Layla is still alive, but Finn reassures her that he will not choose Layla, because they are now twelve years later and are no longer the same. Which isn’t to say he won’t be happy to see her again.
Layla thinks differently about this, she wants Finn back in her life. She even goes so far as to give Finn a deadline to make sure he loses Ellen. Would Layla hurt her own sister? Despite his longing for Layla, he also wants to protect Ellen.
Ellen or Layla
The last night of the deadline, Finn receives a message from Layla to meet up at their cottage. But when he gets there, he doesn’t see her. Finn is worried when he reads that Layla is close to Ellen and rushes home. But both women are gone when he arrives. All he discovers is a Russian doll standing under the stair hatch in the attic. In the attic he finds hundreds of Russian dolls. His friends Ruby, Harry and Tony come to help him and together they come to the conclusion that Layla got help from Ellen or that they are only dealing with Ellen.
When they check Ellen’s mailbox, they find all the messages Finn had received all along. He knows there is another place where Ellen could be and that is her childhood home. Once there, he does not get a proper word from Ellen and he becomes so furious that he pushes Ellen away. She hits a rock with her head, and despite all efforts to help her, Finn knows he can’t save her anymore.
Harry contacts him to point out an email written by Layla. There Finn reads that Ellen was murdered by their father years ago in one of his drunken bouts. Nobody was aware of this. After their fight in France, Layla had run away and returned to her father. But after a while she also wanted to be back with Finn and took over her sister’s identity. Noticing that his love for Ellen was not the same as it was for Layla, she had started playing with the Russian dolls in the hope that he would choose Layla and she could be herself again. But now it’s too late, Finn has murdered the woman he has been looking for all these years and is now left alone.
He is a detective who first met Finn after his arrest on suspicion of murder of Layla and they have been good friends ever since.
She is an illustrator and of Scottish descent. Her mother died young and she took care of her sick father, who drank a lot, until his death.
Forty-one-year-old Finn was born and raised in Ireland. He was with Layla for thirteen months when she disappeared. He is large and can be very short tempered. Finn had previously hurt an ex-girlfriend of his and therefore moved to London with his friend Harry. He’s so rich that he doesn’t actually have to work anymore.
He was Finn’s brother’s best friend, Liam. When Liam was killed in a motorcycle accident, he always took care of Finn and they are the best of friends.
She was nearly twenty when she disappeared, had red hair and always wore clothes of vibrant colors.
Symbols and motifs
Finn can’t help comparing everything Ellen does to how Layla did things or how she reacted. It is somehow stronger than himself.
Layla realizes she shouldn’t have run away. Or at least shouldn’t have said she had cheated.
Layla never thought that Finn would marry Ellen. He had moved on with his life. But Layla doesn’t believe he can love Ellen as much as he loves her.
Title statement and book cover
The title Take Me Back covers the whole story, the quest for Layla to make sure she can live a life again, with or without Finn. On the book cover you can see a crack in a wall, which may be a reference to the crack in love that creates the question of Layla’s presence between Ellen and Finn.
Structure and perspective / way of telling
The book is dedicated to Christine, the author’s sister, and consists of 324 pages, divided into 3 parts, 57 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. The book gives Finn and Layla’s point of view, which is written in the I person. In the first part of the story, everything is told from Finn’s perspective with flashbacks. In the second part, Layla and Finn alternately speak. And in the third part, Finn is only discussed again.
Divide and conquer.
Time and place
The story takes place in the past and the present in France, London, Simponsbridge, Cheltenham and Devon.
Take me back is an original story, which immediately brings tension from the start. As a reader you are constantly put on the wrong track and you don’t see the plot coming at all. The book was finished in no time. The mystery in the story typifies the books of BA Paris. Bring me back is slightly different from the thrillers we all know, so it won’t be equally popular with everyone, but definitely give it a shot.