Book Review: The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

The Good Friend is a brand new thriller / psychological drama novel by Jo Baldwin about love, lies, and obsession.

Once upon a time they were best friends.

They were all friends.

So when Jenny moved to Australia to focus on her swimming career, she not only lost Kath, but her soulmate Tom. It was for the best. Or so they said.

The Good Friend is about Jenny, her ex-boyfriend Tom, and her best friend Kath, who also happens to be Tom’s wife. Jenny decides to visit Kath and Tom in rural France. Initially, the two women instantly reconnect and enjoy the friendship they had as teenagers. However, some strange and malicious behaviour soon leads Jenny to suspect something is wrong with her friend.

I really enjoyed The Good Friend. A lot.

As I was reading, I was struck by the lengths a supposed friend goes to in order to destroy somebody else’s life. It was incredibly uncomfortable to read, but enthralling at the same time. This was helped by the fact that the chapters end on cliff-hangers, to increase tension.

I thought the writing was good, particularly Baldwin’s creative use of imagery, which really helped to make the descriptions as vivid as possible.

I loved the Kath’s deviancy (I do like a well-fleshed out villain), even if some of her actions were a little predictable.

Personally, I think Kath could have been even more manipulative and obsessive. For example, if Kath had begun to dress like Jenny, or copy her body language slightly, this would emphasise just how obsessed Kath is with Jenny’s life and Jenny’s personality, making The Good Friend an even creepier read.

Following on from this, I thought Jenny was a little too self-aware at times of Kath’s manipulation over her life and family. I think it would have been more sinister to reveal Kath’s true intentions, if Jenny had been kept completely unaware to begin with, thinking Kath was just being a Good Friend.

These are small criticisms however, as I did really enjoy reading The Good Friend and would definitely read a sequel, if it existed.

The Good Friend was released on 21st February 2019 and is available to buy as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk.

Star Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

– Judith

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Book Review: Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone.

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox is the third novel in a series of crime and detective books called the Crimson Lake series. I didn’t realise this before reading but in my opinion, the book functions well as a standalone too.

They left four children safe upstairs.

They came back to three.

Reminiscent of the infamous Madeleine McCann case, a child goes missing from a hotel. The child’s parents insisted they checked the room regularly, to check all was well, whilst dining at a nearby restaurant.

Gone by Midnight is set in Queensland, Australia. I enjoyed this because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Australia before, and there were dramatic scenes involving a crocodile or two (of course) which was a fun addition to the narrative.

On the whole, the book was gripping. I genuinely didn’t know what had happened to the missing child or who was to blame, and I was keen to find out.

I thought Ted Conkaffey, the investigator, dealt well with the situation and the discussion of clues and possibilities was informative and realistic. However, Conkaffey is an unusual character because, although is a privately hired investigator to uncover the mystery behind the child’s disappearance, Conkaffey is also a falsely accused paedophile. I don’t think it’s the best decision for one’s public image to get involved with a missing child case.

Conkaffey’s sidekick, Amanda Pharrell is a convicted murderer, and is another character whose involvement in this case looks potentially dodgy. I thought Amanda rode a very fine line between being different for the sake of being different and “cool”, and deliberately irritating and dislikeable. Personally, I didn’t find her wacky attitude or her darkly comic one-liners particularly entertaining.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the story of Gone by Midnight more than the specific characters. The climax of the novel had a really exciting build-up, and this was probably my favourite section of the entire book.

Gone by Midnight is released today! It is available to buy as a paperback, hardback, or e-book directly from Penguin Books.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

– Judith

Book Review: Ordeal by Innocence

Ordeal by Innocence is a murder mystery detective novel by the famous crime author Agatha Christie.

Mrs Rachel Argyle is found dead in her home. Her adopted son, Jack, is found guilty and sentenced. He dies in prison. Two years later, a man comes forward with an alibi for Jack, proving he was innocent. The question is, if Jack Argyle didn’t murder his mother, who did?

Image via BBC

Though I’ve only read a few so far, I’ve decided I really like Agatha Christie stories. They’re short but fun to read, and I like her clear style of writing.

I liked that there were some red herrings and a whole range of different plot devices used to withhold or reveal key pieces of information. I liked trying to understand the mystery and keep track of various clues that could be useful later on.

The characters were fine – although a little shallow and archetypal – and as there were so many characters, I felt they crowded one another.

Whilst I enjoyed reading through the mystery, I thought that the “whodunnit” reveal was annoyingly brief. When the true culprit was revealed, I was left a bit disappointed. Mostly, this was because I’d been imagining other possible endings, investigating the characters myself, and imagining potential secrets or motivations. However, my predictions were all wrong and I was dissatisfied with the answer given to me.

I haven’t seen the BBC adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence yet – although if it’s as good as their adaptation of And Then There Were None, I want to try and watch it at some point.*

*Since writing this blog post, I have watched the Ordeal by Innocence adaptation – all three episodes in one evening. Whilst a lot of key plot and character elements were altered, I still think the story was enjoyable as a dark, gritty drama. I really like the style of filming used for both the Ordeal by Innocence and And Then There Were None adaptations, and I admire the way the BBC have turned Christie’s books from an arguably light-hearted, rather quick-paced murder mystery into intriguing, dark, and mysterious TV series.

Overall, Ordeal by Innocence was still a fun read, but not as enjoyable as And Then There Were None (which still remains my favourite so far) but I liked reading more of Agatha Christie’s work.

– Judith