With Friends Like This – Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

keep your friends closeKeep your Friends Close is the follow up to Paula Daly’s family crime thriller, Just What Kind of Mother Are You. Her début was a slightly preposterous but touching portrait of family life gone wrong. This book is pretty much the same. The plot has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, but Daly’s readable prose and strong eye for the details of family life, once again, make it an entertaining read.

When Natty rushes to France to be by her sick daughter’s bedside she has no idea the turmoil she is about to be put through. Her marriage to Sean is strong. They are successful hotel owners, owning a beautiful property in the Lake District. The popularity of the hotel is due to Natty’s attention to detail. Nothing is left to chance, but Natty’s preoccupation with the business is all consuming. What does this mean for faithful husband Sean?

Natty leaves Sean and old family friend Eve to hold the fort. They should manage just fine. But when Natty returns, Eve has become a permanent fixture, stealing Sean’s affections. Natty finds herself on the outside, wondering where it went wrong so quickly, and just how much does she really know about her oldest friend?

I have mixed feelings about this book. JWKOMAY really struck a chord, but on reflection it probably isn’t quite as strong as my review suggests. Keep Your Friends Close as a whole is unbelievable. It’s stretches credulity well beyond its limits, with coincidences and secrets kept far too well and conveniently. But it is oh so readable, and once again there is its wider context. The thriller parts of Daly’s novels are almost incidental. They provide her with a framework to examine the difficulties and pressures of raising families in modern Britain. Whilst I found the central mystery a little over cooked, the whorls of family tensions were simmered to perfection. This is backed up with some strong, likeable characters. Finally, Daly dishes up a wonderful spicy kick in the very last pages of the book. It doesn’t change the story much, but it did make me gasp out loud.

For a quick, easy read that entertains, you could do a lot worse than read Paula Daly. This book is not perfect, but once again it’s ideal for the beach. It’s addictive and will help you realise your own family aren’t that bad, and not worth strangling. Yet.

Many Thanks to Alison at Transworld for sending me a copy of this book. 

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