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Beautiful Bad

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This harrowing psychological thriller from Ward (The Making of June) begins with an aborted 911 call originating from the home that Ian and Maddie Wilson share with their three-year-old son, Charlie. Meadowlark, Kans., police officer Diane Varga responds to find the house silent, the phone smashed, and the kitchen bloody. Scenes detailing Varga’s search of the residence and the ensuing investigation alternate with flashbacks from Maddie and Ian’s perspectives.


The couple chronicles the last 12 weeks, during which Ian was working private security in Nigeria and Maddie was in therapy for anxiety. They also reflect on key moments from their tumultuous courtship, starting with the couple’s first meeting in the war-torn Balkans, where Maddie was a Fulbright scholar and Ian served in the British military. Ward takes her time revealing what tragedy transpired in the present, heightening suspense and maximizing her devastating conclusion’s emotional impact. Evocative descriptions and strong senses of time and place complement the intricate, intelligent plot, which shocks and chills while thoughtfully examining trauma’s toll on people and their relationships. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary (U.K.).


Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

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