- Author: Laura Marshall
- Published 9.9.2017
- by Grand Central Publishing
Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Innocent enough, right? WRONG! Maria Weston has been dead for over 25 years.
Ooooooh, that sounds creepy and believe me FRIEND REQUEST is a psychological roller coaster from start to finish.
Louise Williams is a 40-something single mother of an adorable 4 year old boy. She is a reserved, quiet type that prefers to look at the world from the outside in. Especially from Facebook.
Is she really that shy or is something going on here? My suspicious mind is always questioning the main character. I can’t help it! As secrets are revealed about Louise, the story’s only point of view, we find she is carrying a huge amount of guilt from her high school days. Her friend, Maria Weston, went missing that year and was assumed dead. Why does Louise feel so guilty about that? Hmmm.
When Louise receives the friend request from Maria, you can only imagine how freaked out she becomes! Louise is a smart person, computer literate and she goes through all the expected steps to find out who sent the request. She even overcomes her nerves and reconnects with old friends in order to get to the bottom of the increasingly threatening messages. She becomes convinced this is not a “catfish” or a prank. During a high school reunion, a woman is murdered and we start learning even more about Louise and her past.
The author, Laura Marshall, expertly carries Louise’s story in alternating chapters entitled 1989 and 2016. In this style, we are given bits and clues and a red herring or two, and all the reader has to do is put this mystery together. Easy enough.
Except this: Louise may or may not be an unreliable narrator. I can’t say. You will be wondering as I was all through this book and I take my “no spoilers” oath seriously. So I cannot tell you. Sorry/not sorry.
The ending is an ugly surprise, not my favorite ending of all time, but it definitely is a plausible one. I can highly recommend FRIEND REQUEST. Add it to your TBR.
Amazon US Friend Request
- Author: Janelle Brown
- Hardcover, 368 pages
- Published July 11th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau
Janelle Brown, the author of WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, says in her Goodreads author profile that her books “tend to be page-turners with dysfunctional family relationships at their hearts.” I couldn’t have said that better myself. Throw in a compelling mystery and this book exceeds that description.
WATCH ME DISAPPEAR tugged at my own heart from the beginning with a beautifully described scene of a family of three –lying on their backs watching hundreds of butterflies cling to the eucalyptus trees during the monarch migration through Northern California. We soon find out that things are not always as beautiful as they appear. Before too long one member of this family has gone missing and the book takes us on a truth finding mission that had me quickly turning the pages until the twisted end.
Janelle Brown is an effortless writer. She is so good, you won’t even notice the writing, and she expertly gives an authentic voice to husband Jonathan and his teenage daughter, Olive. Between these two character’s roles we are left to our own speculation of what happened to missing mom, Billie. Finally, in the Epilogue, the reader hears Billie’s thoughts for the first time. We find out exactly what may or may not have happened to her.
I love the California setting of the book; the mountains, deserts and beaches of the West Coast are colorfully drawn. The story mostly takes place in the small city of Berkeley, with coffee shops and neighborhoods brightly depicted. There are some mean girls and high school angst issues that may appeal to the YA crowd, but the marital secrets and lies are the subjects that create the uneasy suspense in the book.
The book is quick to read but there is one slow wordy area, the Epilogue itself. This last chapter was a bit too tedious for me. I would have liked a few of the thoughts in the epilogue to have been scattered as bread crumb clues throughout the book instead of all at once.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House, and Janelle Brown for allowing me to read and review this book.
AMAZON link Watch Me Disappear: A Novel
There are few things I love more in this world than a book or movie with a great plot twist. Plot twists can occur throughout a novel (a constant rollercoaster ride) or there can be one huge twist at the ending after pages of suspense. Not all plot twists work for me. In fact, so many fail (BEHIND HER EYES). It is a difficult thing to pull off and an author has to be quite skillful. There are certain elements that a story must have in place for a plot twist to be successful.
- element of surprise (duh)
- believable, logical or plausible
- red herrings
Of course, these elements only work if the characterization and narration of the story is compelling. Points of view are are also important. How well do we know the narrator? Unreliable narrators, such as Rachel in GIRL ON THE TRAIN, are all the rage right now and I for one, LOVE IT!! It is difficult for these aspects to all come together in a story, but when they do, HOLY CYCLONE!! A thing of beauty.