My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips, Review: Suspenseful

My Best Friend’s Murder, Polly Phillips’ debut novel, is a layered and suspenseful domestic thriller worthy of book club discussion. Read my full review.

My Best Friend's Murder - Polly Phillips - Book Review

My Best Friend’s Murder Synopsis

You’re lying, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, legs bent, arms wide.
If I squint, you could be playing Sleeping Bunnies. Or maybe Twister.
I wish I could tell you how the blood pooling around your head looks like a halo.
But you’re past listening.
I need to let the paramedics in. And then I have to be careful.
Because as the energy trickles out of your body it’s pumping into mine.
And while this could be a tragic accident, if anyone’s got a motive to hurt you, it’s me.

Bec and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. They’ve been through a lot together – the death of Bec’s mother, the birth of Izzy’s daughter, Bec’s engagement.

But there’s a darker side to their friendship, too – and Bec is about to reach breaking point.

Then Izzy is found broken and bloodied at the bottom of the stairs.
It could have been an accident – perhaps she fell – but if the police decide to look for a killer, then Bec is sure to be their prime suspect.

This is The Rumour meets The Holiday, a compulsive thriller with a toxic but layered friendship at its heart that keeps you in the dark until the final few breathless pages . . .

(Simon & Schuster, January 2021)

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Romance, Mystery

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My Best Friend’s Murder Review

I am not typically drawn to fiction featuring toxic friendships. In real life I run a mile from anything that has even the whiff of ‘frenemy’ about it. But in so boldly naming her debut novel, Polly Phillips piqued my interest.

From the chilling vignette that begins My Best Friend’s Murder we know that Izzy, the narrator’s friend, is very badly injured and that there is considerable animosity between the women. The narrative then jumps back to a time before that incident, and we experience the events that lead up to it from Bec’s perspective.

Neither of the leading women is particularly likeable. But unlike many domestic dramas, childhood trauma and longstanding family, work and romantic entanglements make their persistence with the ‘friendship’ plausible. The series of events depicted within this narrative is a slow-motion train wreck that is difficult to look away from. I read it in a single day.

Plotting and suspense

In My Best Friend’s Murder, Polly Phillips perceptively explores the darker side of the female psyche, the outward facade and inner demons; the layers of grey that can exist in friendships and the strength of bonds made during difficult times in our lives. Her plotting so judicious that the cultivation of suspense often feels effortless, and the fodder fueling the mistrust and suspicion between the ensemble cast believable.

The red herrings dotted throughout this novel offered various credible paths the author could have taken, and I was refreshingly blindsided by more than one reveal in this novel’s concluding chapters.

Polly Phillips’ My Best Friend’s Murder is a well-executed domestic page-turner that would make a great choice for book club discussion.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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More My Best Friend’s Murder reviews

‘A perfectly-paced page-turner that cleverly explores the “frenemy” relationship . . . A really gripping read full of secrets, lies and dark motivations’ – Philippa East, author of Little White Lies

‘This is a fast-paced, exciting, and emotionally rich book which takes the domestic noir genre and plays with it. It will hook you from the first chapter.’ – Emily Paull, AUReview

‘Phillips throws in several red herrings and some jaw-dropping twists before final pages that will leave the reader gasping.’ – Cloggie Downunder

‘This is a great debut novel by Phillips. It’s well-paced with complex characters (all offering shades of grey) and a plot that kept me guessing.’ – Debbish

About the Author, Polly Phillips

Polly Phillips currently lives in Australia, although she is originally from the UK. My Best Friend’s Murder won the Montegrappa Writing Prize at the Emirates Literature Festival in 2019. Polly has worked as a journalist in Australia, Dubai, Denmark and the UK. This is her debut novel.  

This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2021 and the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

* Receiving an advanced review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.