The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

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The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Danger invades the day-to-day lives that meet at the school gates while providing us with my favourite Dorothy Koomson EVER!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Century
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1780895987

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Maxie, Anaya, Hazel and Yvonne – four friends and school-gate-mums who meet for coffee, wine, gossip and momentary escape from their respective lives. Nothing unusual about that until Yvonne is found battered and half-dead in the playground. Three weeks later Cece moves into the area, her children starting that same school. Gradually she finds herself falling into the orbit of Maxie, Anaya and Hazel and hears what happened to the still comatose Yvonne. Two questions still hang in the air though: who did it and why? The police believe that the perpetrator is one of the three remaining friends and that Cece is in the perfect position to help them with their enquiries… a very dangerous position to be in.

I may seem like an objective reviewer of books but I have an alter ego: Dorothy Koomson Fan! (Cue revelationary-type music.) I've read nearly all DK's books with varying degrees of avaricious delight and I'm happy to confirm this is my favourite and one of her best yet, mixing the Koomson trademark relationship insight with a crescendoing thriller.

Dorothy is indeed excellent at writing relationships and differing voices. Here she sets herself the challenge of four women and their husbands/partners/lovers yet each feels totally individual. In fact, once we're in full flow, we don't even need the thoughtfully provided names at the beginning of each of the point of view chapters as we come to know them and realise over whose shoulder we're looking at any given moment.

Cece reluctantly moves her children from London to Brighton in line with her other half's job and even more reluctantly shelves her anti-private education beliefs. She therefore starts by feeling an outsider and doesn't particularly want this status confirmed by turning unofficial police investigator. (There's also some interesting history involved with that.)

Meanwhile Anaya, Maxie and Hazel are all permanently on edge for some reason. Not even wanting to pass the time of day with Yvonne's husband hints heavily of conspiracy while each also have their own private battles.

For Anaya this comes in the form of her mother-in-law. The danger signs were there when she was dating but she took the plunge regardless as the call of the heart countermanded the cry of the brain.

Hazel is insecure to the degree that she feels that she's what Yvonne was – The Friend. The Friend is the one who feels that she's missing out; the others in the group see each other without her, building resentment and suspicion. For Yvonne it didn’t end well…

Then there's Maxie, married to the gorgeous Ed but not all is what it seems.

One of this story's joys is the way that small mysteries surface, piquing our curiosity while we travel towards solving the big one. What is it with Cece's husband? Come to that, what is it about Maxie's marriage? We backtrack to when Maxie and Ed meet but something happened between then and now to provoke the hints that it's an unusual arrangement.

There may be some of us who feel a bit 'What? Really?!' when the truth about Yvonne was uncovered but it's only a milli-second that really didn't matter across the landscape of such an intriguing, enveloping mind journey. Yes, definitely a best yet!

(Thank you, Century, for providing us with a copy for review. We also have a review of The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson.)

Further Reading: If this appeals and you're new to the author, dive in and enjoy. If you're already a fan, try the equally superlative Friends and Liars by Kaela Coble, another thriller with a female bias.

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Buy The Friend by Dorothy Koomson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Friend by Dorothy Koomson at


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