When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.
Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.
Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria’s disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?
As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress, to try to piece together exactly what happened that fateful night. But when another friend’s body turns up in the woods outside their old school, Louise realises she can’t trust anyone and that she must confront her own awful secret to discover the whole truth of what happened to Maria . . .
This is a book that brings masses of contemporary relevance, centering on the impact that a social media message out of the blue has on a guilt stricken single mother.
Louise is a mum, not long divorced, who is a talented and capable designer. Looking after her young son, Henry, Louise works from home and has a stable of good clients. She doesn’t have much of a social life. Still hurting from her divorce, Henry is the centre of her world.
Then one day she receives a friend request on Facebook. A request which catapults her right back to her early teenage years and the behaviours, cliques and get-togethers which formed her journey to adulthood.
For Louise, it is a time she wishes she could forget; looking back she is angst ridden and guilty about the way she behaved to some of her classmates.
She is not proud of her behaviour, in fact she bitterly regrets her actions and their consequences; consequences that have haunted her ever since.
So when Maria Weston’s friend request pops into her inbox, her mind goes into overdrive. Because Maria Weston has been missing, presumed drowned, since the late 80’s when Louise was a schoolgirl.
Louise knows she was no friend to Maria. Desperate to fit into the prevailing popular circle of the day, she made choices that ostracized Maria and led to her own unquestionably bullying behaviour.
Friend Request is a tightly told psychological thriller that moves from the present day into the past of Louise’s schooldays and back again. Laura Marshall has created an engaging and entirely plausible story that will resonate with anyone who went to secondary school.
Well-paced and told with flair and tension, Friend Request is laden with misdirection and twisted turns and for a book that demands to be as popular as this one will surely be, it is to be commended for its well-drawn characters.
A real page turner, Friend Request is a compelling read. It is bound to be a huge success and deservedly so.
Friend Request is published by Sphere on 27th July 2017
About Laura Marshall
Laura Marshall grew up in Wiltshire and studied English at the University of Sussex.
In 2015 she decided it was time to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition to write a novel, and enrolled on the Curtis Brown Creative three month novel writing course.
Her first novel, Friend Request, was runner-up in the Bath Novel Award 2016 and shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2016. Friend Request will be published by Little, Brown in the UK in 2017, and foreign rights have been sold to the USA, France and Germany.
Laura lives in Kent with her husband and two children.