Cover Image: Real Bad Things

Real Bad Things

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Member Reviews

I absolutely loved this book! The story and characters were very well written and relatable. This story was gritty but very well written. The family drama going on this read is crazy good with twist after twist. I did not see that ending coming!! Looking forward to more from Ms. Ford

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when i read Cottonmouths a couple years ago i knew this was an author to watch. have been anxiously waiting for her next one and i was not disappointed. Love the slow burn that lead to the ending! great characters again and a great plot. Again this is a southern noir story that some could say was predictable, and some reviews have already, but it builds up to a great ending, and the characters along the way i thought were great. got this book as an advance ebook, but will be adding it to my shelves as soon as its released. Kelly Ford is one of my favorites now and look forward to her next outing. i absolutely loved it.

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Ford’s REAL BAD THINGS hits all the emotions like a bagful of rusted nails. Through her complex and oftentimes maddeningly cruel characters, Ford presents life on the outskirts of the wealthier parts of town, deftly proving it doesn’t matter if you live at the top of a hill; evil lives everywhere and typically closest to home. This is about a small town, like so many, where recurrent abuses of all kinds go unpunished until one day they finally do and all hell breaks free. This is a place where progression is stunted and queer characters can’t be open without fear of gossip or much worse and people of color are always on the outside. This is the story of trying to find worth in existence when every aspect of life tries to tear a person down. Even with all the heavier aspects of the story, Ford still finds the humor and passion in her characters and their broken town to where hope doesn’t completely sound like a four-letter word. Like her prior book COTTONMOUTHS, REAL BAD THINGS proves Ford is one of the best southern writers around.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an early review copy.

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Real Bad Things captivated me very early on in the story and kept the pace with a strong plot, excellent character development, and a strong ending with a chilling twist.

Twenty five years ago, Jane confessed to murdering her abusive stepfather, but with no body ... no crime. She didn't serve any jail time and was set free, fleeing from the town that held her worst memories. After all this time, a body has been found and Jane returns to face the consequences that await her along with the wrath of those who want to see her pay for her crime. There are much bigger secrets and resentments waiting for Jane as she arrives back to her hometown, though and they are prepared to change everything.

I felt this story was evenly written, and while predictable at times, the ending had me flipping anxiously through even the last one or two pages. A story of how far one would truly go to protect the ones they love, and at times, I truly felt the selflessness of some of the characters through the pages (like I said, excellent character development). This was the first novel I've read by Kelly J Ford and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer Publishing for an opportunity to read this ARC in return for an honest review!

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This book was amazing! First time reading a book by this author and I look forward to reading more by them. I highly recommend this book!

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This was my first book by this author, but definitely not my last. Jane and her brother Jason have a hard life. With an abusive toxic mother and a stepfather who is even worse than their mom, they must look out for each other. When their stepfather disappears Jane confesses to his murder. With no body, the police eventually let her go, and then she leaves town. Fast forward many years later when a body is found that is believed to be her stepfather, Jane returns to town to face her past. But is Jane guilty or is she covering up for someone else. Many layered story that is fast paced, heartbreaking, and impossible to put down.

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Really good story and I love the character development! The murder mystery pulled me in and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on! So many lies! The pace was just right as it was a slow burn. I really liked Jane’s character, and my heart broke for her as more was revealed as the story unfolded.
Thank you #netgalley for giving me the uncorrected proof to review!

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC.

Billed as a thriller, this is more of a portrayal of a damaged family in rural Arkansas.

Jane returns to her hometown to face the consequences of her involvement in a 25 year old murder. Along with her toxic family she deals with the homophobia and hatred of a small town.

The plot has some slow moments butvIt's well written and for the most part engrossing.

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Oooohhhhh boy did this book keep me guessing. I read some critiques that the ending was too predictable, which I don't disagree, what happened in the end was one of my speculations. Key word there is one. I'm perfectly okay with a book having a predictable outcome when the writer does such a good job of leading you down a large web of possibilities. Kelly J. Ford was pulling me every which way, it was a wild ride.

25 years ago Jane confessed to the murder of her stepdad. The body has now just been recovered and Jane is forced to come & face the consequences of her confession. This gave me some maaaajor Sharp Objects vibes. From Jane having to go back to her small hometown, to her narcissistic mother making her life a living hell.

I would consider this a slow burn psychological thriller. The plot and character development was *chefs kiss*

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Suspenseful and atmospheric - I flew through this one in a day! I'll definitely be on the lookout for more by Kelly J Ford. Thanks so much to Kelly and the publisher for the ARC of this fantastic book.

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It's not you, it's me.

I couldn't really connect with this book or any of the characters. I also felt like any reasonable person (even a teen) would get the cops involved immediately and if they didn't it still would have been resolved before now.

There are a lot of bad parents in the book and I think I would have changed up Georgia Lee's situation a bit. If I were the author, I would have either not given Georgia Lee any children or made them a couple of years older so that they were out on their own or in college. As is, she appears to just write off her teenage boys.

As for the high points, there are a couple of funny scenes especially with Jane and the funeral director. I also think there were some accurate depictions of small-town life.

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What would you do if you got away with murder 25 years ago because they could not find a body? You then leave town and live your life. 25 years later that body washes up on shore and triggers a reinvestigation.

Not everyone is happy to see Jane return after all this time.

Loved the description of the town she grew up in, as well as the characters. Made me feel immersed in the story.

Great novel from an author I have not read before but will from now on.

Thanks NetGalley and publishers for the arc.

Trigger warning* abuse

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This was my first time reading this author and this book did not disappoint. I am personally drawn to writing styles and character development that transport you into the atmosphere. It is common I think for writers to be really great at one or the other, but both work in this story and flow seamlessly together.

The story unfolds in two perspectives, that of Jane and Georgia-Lee. Jane was born when her mother was just 16-years old. Her brother Jason came later and they do not know their fathers. Jane’s mother has had a hard life. A carousel of men float in and out of their home, but none stay. One of their mother’s particularly violent and abusive boyfriends picks a fight one night and Jane later ends up confessing to murder after promising her friends and Jason she would say nothing. She spent some time in the juvenile detention center, but never was convicted because the police could not locate the body of her stepfather.

Following a flood, bones wash up from the river and everyone presumed it’s Jane’s missing stepfather. It’s been 25 years, but Jane returns home to face her fate and finds out the secrets she tried to hide to protect those she loved were nothing like the secrets they kept from her.

I loved the cast of characters in this book so much. While I found Georgia Lee a little (a lot) on the annoying side, that added a lot to the book and you could empathize with how the people in their small town felt toward her. The entire book captured small town rural America in a really relatable way. I thought there were a few holes in the story, but I didn’t think too hard about what was missing because I wanted to see what happened next. Toward the middle it’s a bit of a slow burn, but I was surprised by the ending even though I thought I had it figured out because of another review I had read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and really loved the writing style and character development a lot. I wanted to see more of Jane and honestly wanted an epilogue so I could see how they all landed.

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In a similar vein as Joshilyn Jackson’s novels, Jane returns to her hometown to face the past. Except in Jane’s case, she is prepared to go to prison for killing her stepfather 25 years ago.

What really happened that fateful night? There’s the truth as Jane knows it, but it becomes increasingly clear that there is more to the story.

This novel is not only a thriller, but also showcases abuse in families, being lgbtq in a small town, racism, and more.

The ending was somewhat ambiguous but this novel kept me riveted until that point.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this free arc in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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I’ve never read the author before – this was my first read from her, but definitely not my last!

The author knows how to build characters. I felt like I knew each and every one of them. They aren’t sweet and pretty, but they have depth and manage to live and breathe on the page. She also has a deft hand with setting. I’ve never been to Arkansas and I’ll admit that my knowledge of the state is woefully sparse. I loved learning a little more about it and having some of my prior impressions turned upside down!

Our mystery itself surprised me. At first, I thought it was a rather simple one. Nope. There are some wonderfully dark and unexpected things about this one!

I did find myself wishing our main character had made a very different decision in the end. It’s probably a good sign that I was so disappointed in her – it meant that I was feeling her so much and wanted her to end up right.

A good, sharp and modern thriller!

*ARC via Publisher

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This one was a little too predictable for me, I like a bit more suspense in a book but it was ok and I read it all ..

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Wow! What a ride. Just when I thought I had things figured out, Kelly J. Ford throws a curve ball, then another, then another. Told from two points of view, although I found myself more wrapped in Jane's narrative than Georgia Lee's. A compelling page-turner. You'll get pulled into the characters, places, social and class distinctions of the town of Maud. Be prepared to read through to the end in one sitting. My first 5-star of 2022.

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I wanted to like this book. I generally like gritty crime novels and love a good Southern setting. This book failed to deliver, unfortunately. The premise was not believable, the characters were flat and the dialog was didn't further reveal character or convey anything besides what the characters meant. The few times we did get the thoughts of the POV characters, it was like they were speaking in cliches and buzzwords. Hoping this is just a sophomore slump for the author and that her next book returns to what she did well with Cottonmouths.

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Ugh boy. I wanted so, so badly to like this book. I was a fan of this author's first book, which came out a few years ago. I knew from other reviews here and on Goodreads that this one pivoted to more of a crime/thriller genre, but that it was keeping with small town, small-minded themes in the South, and still had a lesbian protagonist, so I expected more carryover from what the prior book offered.

I found this to read significantly more like a first novel than Cottonmouths did, and it had so many of the markers of a first book. Superficial characters that we don't go into depth on, a setting that is caricatured, a plot that is overused and predictable, relationships and reactions that made no sense. I am honestly taken aback by how many early good reviews this book has given how bad it really was.

The book is told from dual points of view, from Jane and her ex of 25 years ago, Christian and politican goody-goody Georgia Lee. Jane has been in juvie and then in a mess of a life after confessing to the murder of her stepfather, Warren, as a teenager. The murder plot involves a convoluted interaction of several main characters -- Jane, Georgia Lee, Jane's brother, a side character Angie who is never developed, and Jane's mother, and the book is an exploration of what really happened after the bones of the stepfather are found in the town's local dam. For whatever reason, finding the body/bones (at times it's referred to differently, so it's not super clear) prompts Jane to return home, where she preemptively waits to be arrested for the murder. It's stated that upon her initial confession 25 years ago, she wasn't able to be arrested because "no body, no crime," so I have no idea why she ended up in juvie with that explanation after all. Jane is all anger and resentment with no internalization to help us empathize with why, except for one time where she enters into a bar and immediately starts crying and spilling her guts (she's not even drunk).

Georgia Lee is a local politician re-running for office in November when Jane returns home, and the threat of the truth about Warren's murder throws her campaigning into disarray as well as her home life. Georgia Lee has a husband and several children, and we get the impression that she resents them. The men in this book overall are all painted as bumpkins or drunks, and every female character refers to every single male character with derision, which seems like it might be feminist but it really just came off as weirdly bitter and unrealistic (I am a woman, fyi). Georgia Lee herself is a bimbo who is all over the place...she has no significant emotional arc, I don't believe her as a character, she's just overeager to find out about the investigation and leave her marriage immediately and with zero context as to why.

Compared to Ford's first novel, I found Real Bad Things to be completely devoid of any emotional interiority or depth, the setting overly simplified and caricatured, the bad guys to be hyperbolic and unbelievable, and the dialogue and writing to be just straight up... real bad. I left not caring about a single character, and not believing anything about this book honestly. The "ride into the trailer park sunset" ending was especially unbelievable to me. You don't ever get any emotional connection between characters. It's like this book was written based on a checklist of what a hard-hitting crime novel is supposed to look like, and in hitting all of the technical requisites it missed the point entirely.

Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this early, I am bummed that it was such a crushing disappointment.

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Real bad things by Kelly J Ford

This was a really good psychological thriller .
Jane admits to a murder, she fully expects jail time but some how evades it and goes far away . Only to return 25 years later to face the music and tell her side.
There are some really hard to read areas in this book . But nothing I couldn't get through. :D

It was an easy 4 star if not for how predictable the ending seemed . I really enjoyed this one over all ! And would love to try more by this author!

Thank you @netgalley for allowing me to read this one !

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