After long years of being away from the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m going to write about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts will be linked here.
After Enigma by Robert Harris, I bring you Friend Request by Laura Marshall.
Friend Request : Book Description
Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?
1989: When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.
2016: Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.
Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria – or whoever’s pretending to be her – is known to all.
Friend Request : Excerpt
The e-mail arrives in my inbox like an unexploded bomb: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.
For a second I miss the Facebook reference, and just see “Maria Weston wants to be friends.” Instinctively I slam the laptop shut. It feels as though a sponge has been lodged in my throat, soaking up water, swelling and clogging, leaving me struggling for breath. I attempt to breathe deeply, trying to get myself back under control. Perhaps I was mistaken. I must have been mistaken because this cannot possibly be happening. Slowly I raise the lid of my laptop. Hands shaking, I go back into the e-mail and this time there is no denying the bald fact of it. Maria Weston wants to be friends with me.
It’s been a fairly unremarkable day up until now. Henry is at Sam’s tonight, so I’ve put in a long day working on some initial plans for a client who wants everything from walls to carpets and sofas in varying shades of beige and taupe, but at the same time doesn’t want the house to look boring. When I saw I had an e-mail, I was glad of the distraction, hopeful of a personal message rather than yet another company trying to sell me something.
Now though, I’d be grateful for marketing spam, and I long to go back to the mild tedium of a few minutes ago. This must be someone’s idea of a sick joke, surely. But whose? Who could think this funny? Who even knows the effect it would have on me?
There’s an easy way out of this, of course. All I have to do is delete the e-mail, go to Facebook and decline the request without looking at the page. A part of me is screaming out to do this, to end it here; but another part of me–a quiet and buried part–wants to see, to know. To understand.
So I do it. I click “Confirm Request” and I’m taken straight to her page: Maria Weston’s Facebook page. The profile photo is an old one from a pre-digital age that has obviously been scanned in. Maria, in her green school-uniform blazer, long brown hair blowing in the wind, a small smile playing across her face. I scan the screen, searching for clues, but there is very little information on the page. She doesn’t have any friends listed or photos uploaded other than the profile one.
She stares at me dispassionately from behind my computer screen. I’ve not felt her cool gaze for over twenty-five years, not been the recipient of that look, which tells you she’s sizing you up, not in an unpleasant way, but appraising you, understanding more of you than you want the world to know. I wonder if she ever realized what I had done to her.
About the author Laura Marshall
She grew up in Wiltshire, studied English at the University of Sussex and currently lives in Kent with her family.
Why pick up Friend Request by Laura Marshall
The premise got me–the friend request from a dead friend–but this is a story about two things: about bullying, and the dangers of social media. Like a lot of other thrillers, it deals in secrets, most of them unsavory, which return to bite the secret-keepers.
I read it back when it came out a few years ago, and remember being completely absorbed by the contemporary realness of it (some far-fetched twists notwithstanding). Having been bullied as a child and a teen, the narrative resonated, and though the ‘relatable’ protagonist sometimes feels like she’s too nice to be real, a lot of the observations on life hit home.
This is a fast read, and if you’re intrigued by how social media relates to guilt, paranoia, and real dangers like stalking, this one will keep you turning the pages late into the night.
Have you read the book Friend Request ? If yes, what did you think of it? What thrillers have you read lately ?
Through the month of April, to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m holding this giveaway:
Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this
Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.
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