Monday, 12 March 2018

Books Read: The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

What secrets would you kill to keep?

After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret.

Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.

Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life.

That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again . . .

Amazon Affiliate Links: Kindle or Paperback

I'd already bought the eBook of The Friend last year but hadn't gotten around to reading it so I'd like to thank Becky at Arrow Publishing for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and giving me the perfect opportunity to finally read it.

Over the years I've read almost all of Dorothy Koomson's books, the only one I haven't read yet despite having a copy of it is When I Was Invisible, as she's an author whose books I know I'll enjoy and will pick up ad add to my reading pile without even reading the blurb.  I know that when I eventually get around to reading one of her books I'm in for a intense read as she really is adept at exploring relationships, especially friendships, that will have you totally hooked and second guessing what's going on and that was definitely the case in The Friend.

We meet a group of school mums, Yvonne, Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, who have formed a close friendship through their mutual connection but is their bond as close as it seems? When 'popular' Yvonne is attacked and left for dead, everyone comes under close scrutiny especially those closest to her.

The story is told from the viewpoints of Maxie, Anaya, Hazel and newcomer Cece who has relocated to Brighton with her family.  Unfortunate timing on her part means that her first school run just happens to be on the day that Yvonne's young children are returning to school.  To say the atmosphere at the school gates is strained is an understatement, no-one is making eye contact with Trevor, Yvonne's husband, as he escorts the girls to school.  Is that because they don't know what to say to him or because they have something to hide?

A chance encounter, or not as the case turns out, means that CeCe soon finds herself caught up in the action as an old friend asks her for help, by using her own past against her, to get to know her new friends better to find out what they're hiding.  What follows is an investigation into the life of Yvonne and those close to her.  Everyone seems to have secrets they are hiding, and seem to be relieved that their secrets are safe for now whilst Yvonne is in a coma.  The saying 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer' seems to be very true amongst this group of friends, what hold did Yvonne really have over them that they're afraid to talk about?

At first I did think that there was maybe one character too many to try and follow the separate narratives throughout but that concern soon went out of the window as the story progressed and I found myself caught up in the drama wondering what was going to unfold next.  Saying that I thought there was one character too many, I find myself contradicting myself as I did sometimes wish we could have heard from Yvonne, to get to know what made her tick and act the way she did. 

As each of the women's pasts are investigated and their secrets revealed, we soon discover that maybe Yvonne was not quite the loyal and popular friend she appeared to be, and that each of the women had their reason to be glad that she was no longer able to have that hold over them.  Maybe Yvonne was not quite be the innocent victim after all..  . 

When I'm reading a reading a crime/mystery based story I'm constantly on the look out for clues to try to solve the case, in this instance as to why Yvonne was attacked and who her attacker was? All I can say is that I was half right, I had worked out the motive but was nowhere close to identifying the actual culprit.. a testament to Dorothy Koomson's skillful writing for throwing in that element of surprise that caught me totally off guard.

I'm kicking myself that I left it so long to read The Friend as it is one of my favourite reads of her recent books, although The Ice Cream Girls is still my absolute favourite overall.  And like The Ice Cream Girls, The Friend has the perfect ingredients for a TV series or mini drama.

All book titles in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.

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