Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

Published 30 July 2020

The riveting follow up to Jessica Barry’s debut Freefall*—a controversial, of-the-moment thriller about two women fighting for their right to live.

Book blurb

322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer. Too many secrets.

Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight.  Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.  

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it’s punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.  

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they’ve worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them.  Someone wants one of them dead. But which one?  And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. . . .

My thoughts

I’m going to throw it out there at the start I found the back and forth in the book a bit challenging, which is unusual for me, even though it is clearly marked with headings of who was speaking, when and where the action was taking place. Having said that this is an interesting and gripping story so it didn’t stop me from reading on and finishing the book.

We have two women travelling out of state together – at first we don’t know why. Cait is driving and picks Rebecca up one evening but they are strangers. As we are taken with them on their journey and threw flashbacks we learn about both women. They each have a story. They both have reasons to ‘get out of town’ fast which become even more apparent when they realise they are being followed. Followed by someone who is determined to stop them from going any further. But which of them has attracted such bad attention?

The action certainly moves up a few gears as the women try and outrun whoever it is.

This book takes on some difficult subjects and reveals the stories using an interesting setting and in a situation which has Cait and Rebecca journeying forward whilst having to look backward, both literally and in their memories, to try and see which of them is being hunted down.

They look at what they have done and are doing and as they do so it shows that there are two sides and, perhaps, more to a situation. Things are not always simple or what they appear to be. On top of which it isn’t just what men have done, or wanted or expected but also that women have the ability to make bad moves and do wrong things. That not all men are bad but some are. That men have feelings but can’t all express them well or they come across badly, overbearing and expecting to have their way.

Yet – and isn’t this the thing – the women talk it out, admit any wrongdoing and work things out. They understand things aren’t always just one way or another. There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration but in the end the actions of men mean that women must trust one another, must be truthful with each other and must look after each other.

And importantly we need to learn that it is never right to impose ourselves upon, take advantage of, harm, belittle or disparage another person regardless of, or indeed, because of their gender, colour, race, orientation, age, ability, capability or status.

There is certainly a strong message in this book. One that is important to tell but it is wrapped up in a gripping and well told story. A story well worth reading.

I have previously read and reviewed Freefall* Jessica Barry’s debut novel.


Thanks to Kate at VINTAGE, Penguin Random House UK, for the invite to read Don’t Turn Around and an eCopy via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own, I have not received any payment for this review.

This is my 10th book in the #20BooksofSummer20 so just 10 to go! You can find out more about this challenge by popping over to Cathy’s blog – you’ll find lot’s of other wonderful book stuff there, too!


Published: Vintage Digital (UK) | eBook|30 July 2020

Vintage|Paperback |April 2021

Harvill Secker|Hardback| 30 July 2020

Vintage|Vintage Digital|Harvill Secker are imprints of Penguin Random House UK

HarperCollins (USA)|June 16, 2020

Buy: AmazonSmileUK |Your local Indie Bookshop |Waterstones

Photo by Ryan Bowman via HarperCollins


Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for an American author and publishing professional, Melissa Pimentel, who grew up in a small town in Massachusetts and was raised on a steady diet of library books and PBS.

She attended Boston University, where she majored in English and Art History, before moving to London in 2004 to pursue an MA from University College London.

She lives with her husband, Simon, and their two cats, Roger Livesey and BoJack Horseman. When not working or writing, she spends her free time running around various muddy parks and reading books in Stoke Newington pubs.


*Look For Me , previously published as Freefall, Jessica Barry’s debut novel has sold around the world and has secured a major Hollywood film deal.

Buy: Freefall|Look for Me


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