Heather Chavez’s No Bad Deed is a fast-paced, high-anxiety tale of a good Samaritan’s offer of assistance gone very, very wrong. On her drive home from work after a 12-hour shift at her veterinarian practice, Cassie Larkin pulls over to mop up a spilled drink—and sees a man throw a woman into a ravine.
A shocked Cassie calls 911 and, despite the dispatcher’s exhortations to stay in her minivan, she gets out and stumbles down a steep hill in an attempt to save the woman. The attacker offers a terrifying bargain—“Let her die and I’ll let you live”—before running off, stealing Cassie’s van (as well as her wallet and keys) along the way. The woman lives, and Cassie pushes through her shock and fear to give a statement to Detective Ray Rico, who tells her, “Every crime is personal, even the random ones.” But Cassie can’t imagine how on earth this crime could have anything to do with her, nor can she figure out why Rico seems to be regarding her with skepticism rather than focusing on catching the criminal who knows where she lives and has the keys to her house.
Exhausted and distraught, she pushes the weirdness aside and goes home, hoping the police will soon catch said criminal and resolving to start fresh tomorrow. Alas, rather than a festive day with a candy-filled finale, Cassie’s Halloween ends on a strange and terrifying note. Her husband Sam takes their 6-year-old daughter trick-or-treating and then disappears. Cassie wonders if he’s having an affair, but can’t believe that he would abandon their child.
Chavez, a former newspaper reporter, does an excellent job of pulling the reader along with Cassie as she tears around town assembling clues in an effort to figure out what the hell is going on. Thanks to the uncanny timing, Cassie wonders if Sam’s disappearance is related to the bizarre assault she witnessed. That would be a wild coincidence, but as the hours pass and the danger and strangeness increases, Cassie’s sense of reality warps and changes, and her instincts are increasingly at odds with what she’s seeing and hearing.
No Bad Deed is an exciting exploration of what might happen when a person’s ordinary life is suddenly thrown into chaos, and knowing whom or what to trust is no longer possible. It’s also a delightfully Harlan Coben-esque tale of the ways in which the past can influence the present—for better or much, much worse.