Author: Lucinda Berry
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Prologue begins with the first person present tense PoV of Kendra and her husband, Paul, as they become aware that something terrible has happened at the home of Caleb, where their own son, Sawyer, has gone for a sleepover along with another friend, Jacob. The night ends in tragedy and horror, and none of the families are ever the same again.
The boys get drunk and begin to play around with the gun owned by Caleb’s dad, Bryan.
Sawyer dies on the spot, Jacob has to be rushed to the hospital, in a vegetative state, with a bullet in his brain, while Caleb has turned silent, too traumatised by the events of the night to even speak. He has taken to screaming, having nightmares and wetting his bed.
Doctors think that Jacob’s wound is self-inflicted and that he may have shot Sawyer. Detective Martin Locke is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. As he struggles with the investigation, Kendra feels driven to make her own investigations to find out what happened that night.
Prior to this, the families have socialised together. But tragedy draws invisible lines between them, even though on the surface, it seems that the friendship is unmarked. Soon other secrets simmer to the surface, secrets that let up to the tragedy that bound their families together. The secrets range from the abuse of drugs and peddling them, to violence and cruelty in a marriage and even an emotional affair that threatens to upend a marriage. Even the boys, it turns out, weren’t as innocent as their parents supposed.
As the secrets pop out, the face of a picture perfect life begins to crumble and the parents’ lives begin to disintegrate. Soon each woman finds herself facing overwhelming reality, as they realise the extent of the secrets they have all hidden.
The book is written in multiple first person present tense points of view of Kendra, Lindsey and Dani. The voices sound alike in the language and tone. It’s only the events taking place in each life that helps to distinguish between the characters.
The best friends in the title refers not only to Caleb, Sawyer and Jacob, who have been inseparable since grade school, but also to their mothers, Dani, Kendra and Lindsey, who have also been best friends since they were very little.
I could relate to Kendra’s sense of fear as she worries about her son and rushes out to the home of Caleb, after she hears not one but two gunshots in rapid succession. Stunned and shocked by her son’s death, Kendra gives way to grief.
The writing is prosaic. The chapters end abruptly, without a cliff-hanger or even a sense of closure to them.
I didn’t get a sense of how old the boys were until Chapter 3. I assumed that as they were having a sleepover, they were much younger. They turned out to be teenagers, at least 16 years of age.
It was hard to keep the families straight initially. Which husband was married to which wife, and who their kids were.
I found one inconsistency. In the Prologue, from Kendra’s PoV, we learn that Paul has blond hair. In Chapter 15, Dani’s PoV tells us that it is light brown, matching his perfectly tanned skin.
The book ends with a revelation on the very last word of the last chapter. There are very few books I have read that could make that claim.