Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly
Published by Bantam Press
13th March 2014
Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty's oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears - just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France - Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.
Two weeks later and Natty finds Eve has slotted into family life too well. Natty's husband has fallen in love with Eve. He's sorry, he tells her, but their marriage is over. With no option but to put a brave face on things for the sake of the children, Natty embarks on building a new life for herself.
And then she receives the note. Eve has done this before, more than once, and with fatal consequences...
'So, what's been on your mind this week?' she asks him.
'Besides the usual?'
She tilts her head. Looks on with mild disapproval and waits for him to answer more appropriately.
'Death,' he says. 'I've been thinking about death.'
'Not dying per se...but wouldn't it be amazing if we got to choose the exact time of our deaths?'
Her expression is one of puzzlement. 'Can't we already do that?' she asks.
'I don't mean suicide.'
'But surely you don't actually want to die?'
He's lying supine on the couch. There is the beginning of a small paunch forming, a concertina of trouser creases at his groin. He turns his head towards her, glances her way briefly.
'My youngest, Olivia, asked me what I'd do if I had three wishes,' he says, 'and it got me thinking. The one thing we're really scared of, the thing that unites all human beings, is the fear of death. Wouldn't it be great if you could just take death right out of the equation? If you could go through life knowing that everything's okay...because you're not scheduled to die for, say, another thirty years?'
'Would you life your life differently?'
'Maybe. Probably. Definitely. Wouldn't you?'
'We're not here to talk about me,' she says.
Paula Daly is back with this, her second novel. If you haven't already caught up with the sensation that is Just what kind of mother are you? then I suggest that you do. My review of it is here if you need a reminder. This novel is also set in the Lake District, and Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall is as always, on the case. The plot is fairly simple: Natty and Eve have been friends since university, and when her eldest daughter Felicity is taken ill on a school trip in France, Natty leaves Eve at home with her husband Sean and youngest daughter Alice. Sounds just fine, only when she gets back two weeks later, Sean is in love with Eve and Natty's life is about to take a crashing fall.
Dr Eve Dalliday is not what she seems, not to the reader, that much is very clear right from the start; but to Natty, she is her best friend, her confidante; a psychologist living in America recovering from a failed marriage. Only that's not what she is at all. I don't think I have disliked a character so much in ages. Eve is horrible, and that's putting it politely. She knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her from getting it. A ruined marriage, that's nothing to Eve, it's a scam she's pulled time and time again. But can Natty stop her, or will it be Natty that faces going to jail?
Paula Daly writes a real page-turner. I read this in about two days, turning the pages to find out if Eve would get what was coming to her, or if she could fool them all and play the victim whilst Natty takes the blame. The ending didn't disappoint. If you like a good thriller, then Paula Daly is someone I'd definitely recommend. Because, at the end of the day, if your best friend stole your life, what would you do?
Miss Chapter x