Seeber, Claire - 'Bad Friends'
This novel uses the device of starting with the heroine of the novel (Maggie) running for her life away from an unknown pursuer, followed by a 'prequel' that sets out what's been happening to Maggie over the past few months, leading up to the pursuit. Maggie is a TV researcher, who broke up with her boyfriend while in Cornwall, headed back to London on the coach, and was involved in a major coach crash, in which some people were killed. After a period of recuperation and some kind of amnesia, she agrees to participate on the show for which she normally researches, to talk about her experiences of the coach crash. It's the standard reality TV, interview-based show in which a presenter interviews people about their life experiences. Maggie is extremely nervous, unused to being the 'wrong' side of the camera. Another survivor, Fay, also appears on the show and claims that Maggie saved her life. After the show, she starts to follow Maggie, and presses her to join her 'survivors' club. She even asks her advice about leaving her boyfriend, Troy, and Maggie tells her to do it. Then flowers start arriving, lilies with an 'in sympathy' card attached. Are they from Fay, Maggie's ex-boyfriend, or someone else?
To add to Maggie's feelings of insecurity, her best friend Bel, is getting married and heading off for a new life in Australia, and there doesn't seem to be anyone else she can rely on. She dislikes her job as a TV researcher but feels forced to continue as she can't switch jobs without a good reference, and her boss Charlie is threatening to reveal some mysterious bad behaviour of hers, from shortly before the crash, which she can't quite remember. Just as her life appears to be falling apart, she meets Seb, an actor, at Bel's leaving party and it seems as though she has finally found a new friend, or even boyfriend, someone she can rely on. But can she rely on her judgement, in the state that she is in? Perhaps she can only make 'bad friends'.
The novel completely revolves around Maggie and her life. Maggie doesn't seem to be able to control much of what happens in her life, seems to make some very bad decisions and yet manages to pull it all together at work and perform well as a TV researcher/producer. She claims to be fed up with the superficiality of the TV show that she works on, but there isn't much more in the way of social comment, and overall the plot line is fairly predictable. This is really just a novel about a gutsy heroine, backed into a corner, wishing life would just get back to some sort of normality. The novel was enjoyable to read, but lacked depth. Overall, it's 'chick-lit' with a dash or two of danger.
Michelle Peckham, England