I owe someone out there a lot of chocolate. It’s the person who told me to read Dorothy Koomson’s work.
The Friend is the first book I’ve tried by this author and I’m already hooked. I’ve started making plans to binge-read her back-list.
Sea, Sand & Scandal
This is a school-gate drama with a grisly twist. The story’s set in the friendly English seaside resort of Brighton. Normally, I’d recommend a visit, but after reading this novel you’ll suspect dangerous criminals are hiding behind every corner…
It starts with a newspaper report. A woman has been attacked and left for dead in the premises of her children’s exclusive, fee-paying school.
Main character, Cece, never met the victim but the news comes as a blow. Her husband’s big promotion forced her to move out of London, uproot her children and leave her own job and friends.
Now, in Brighton, she’s facing a rocky marriage and – worse – an area that’s seen a murder attempt. The attacker hasn’t been caught and the assault victim, Yvonne, is still in a coma.
As Cece gets to know the other local families, she realises they’re hiding secrets. Her new pals had been close to Yvonne and all had their own reasons to dislike her. Cece’s police contact encourages her to investigate.
Secrets and Suspense
The Friend is a fun-to-read thriller told from multiple points of view. It flips between Cece and three mums who had been part of the victim’s social circle.
Have you guessed it already? Their ‘happy’ friendship hides some deep, dark secrets.
The more I learnt about the four women, the easier it became to follow the plot when it moved between characters.
Dorothy Koomson drip-feeds information, ramping up the suspense. Each of Cece’s new friends has a horrific past and something that they’re desperate to hide. They need to keep this knowledge from the world and even from each other.
The fear the three feel comes across in their separate narratives. They’re pushed to breaking point and consider turning on each other.
Dorothy Koomson does a great job of mixing past terrors with important, everyday issues. Interfering mother-in-laws, marital strife and difficult exes add more stress to a dangerous situation.
On top of this, Yvonne still casts a shadow over her former friends. Although she’s unconscious throughout the novel, it’s her choices that drive the story. She reminded me of Rebecca in Daphne du Maurier’s famous story. Yvonne manages to keep everyone on edge, even when she’s absent.
By the end I suspected the motive but had no idea ‘whodunnit’. Did the author drop clues? If so they went over my head! The big-reveal in the last chapter was a real surprise.
Verdict: Tension, marital woes and plenty of mystery. This won’t be the last book I read by Dorothy Koomson!