Blog tour review – Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

By | March 29, 2014

When I reviewed Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly – you’ll find my review here – I’ll admit I might have gushed a little.  But I absolutely loved it, well up there with the very best psychological thrillers I’ve read, and I’m delighted to be part of Paula’s blog tour to tell everyone that it’s now available in paperback, published by Corgi on 13th March.  Don’t miss this one, whatever you do.

So how excited was I when Alison Barrow at Transworld sent me a copy of Paula Daly’s new hardback, Keep Your Friends Close – released in hardback and for Kindle on 13th March by Bantam Press/Transworld Digital – to read and review. I could hardly contain myself, and I’m delighted to report that there’s nothing of the “difficult second novel” about this one.  If there had been, I wouldn’t have found myself feverishly turning the pages, desperately wanting to find out what happens but also not wanting it to end. I didn’t expect to be saying this, but  – after due consideration – I honestly think this second is even better than her first.

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…

I talked about the strong female characters at the heart of the first book, and Natty is another of that ilk.  A highly efficient organiser, juggling running her family with running her hotel in Bowness – scrubbing hair dye from tile grouting with bleach, dealing with all the little day-to-day crises – trying to prove herself good enough in the eyes of her difficult mother-in-law, we then see her fall apart over her daughter’s illness and the breakdown of her marriage, then searching for the strength to manage the situation.  I loved her, and the way in which the author puts you squarely in her corner, seeing things through her eyes, is quite wonderful.  Eve Dalladay, however, is an equally magnificent creation – the childhood friend, beautiful and intelligent, helping out a friend in a crisis, who turns into the personification of pure evil. I really loved the slow unveiling of Eve’s character – the reader is totally aware of what is going on, while the other characters find out far more slowly, and this is such a difficult thing to achieve.

The supporting cast is superbly drawn. The daughters are real living teenagers, Sean’s mother the difficult mother-in-law with high expectations that many struggle with, Sean the weaker man who is a ready target.  I also loved Natty’s father – and I’m delighted that DC Joanne Aspinall is back again, and her aunt Mad Jackie has a more prominent role.

This book is a wonderful thriller, full of twists and turns, so it would be wrong to say any more about it beyond the synopsis and maybe spoil it for new readers.  But if you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful author, and like your books totally engrossing and unputdownable, I’d really urge you to discover her now. I loved this book, and can hardly wait to see what she comes up with next.

Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? she was a freelance physiotherapist and lived for a short while in France. She now lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy.  

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