Keep Your Friends Close

Paula Daly. Grove, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2320-6

Daly’s strained sophomore effort fails to live up to her superb debut, Just What Kind of Mother Are You?. Wife, mother, and hotelier Natasha “Natty” Wainright has been friends with Eve Dalladay since university. When Natty’s 14-year-old daughter, Felicity, falls ill on a school trip to France, she rushes to the girl’s side, glad that Eve can help care for her family at home in England’s Lake District. Ten days later, she returns to find that her husband, Sean, has fallen in love with Eve and moved with her to the Wainrights’ hotel. Natty discovers that everything she believes about Eve is false; her friend survives by seducing men with money. When she rams Eve’s car and Eve retaliates, Natty’s own secrets are revealed in a spiral of violence that changes her family forever. Eve’s unalloyed evil and Sean’s extreme passivity are equally implausible. Daly’s genuine gift for psychological nuance is afforded little room to shine. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company (U.K.). (Sept.)