Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl's schooling.
How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model.
Best friends don't tell lies.
They don't take up residence on your couch for weeks.
They don't call lawyers.
They don't make you choose sides.
Best friends don't keep secrets about their past.
They don't put you in danger.
Best friends don't always stay best friends.
Tamar Cohen is one of my favourite authors. Her debut novel; The Mistress's Revenge was one of the first books I reviewed here on Random Things, back in April 2011. I adored it and have made sure that I've got hold of early copies of her books ever since. I reviewed her second; The War of the Wives in August 2012, and her last one; Someone Else's Wedding in June 2013. I was so excited to receive a copy of The Broken which is published by Doubleday (Transworld) in hardback on 22 May 2014. I wasn't disappointed, in fact I'd go as far as to say that The Broken is her best novel yet.
Four friends; Dan and Sasha, Josh and Hannah. Two couples who are the best of friends, their daughters are the same age, they share the same interests, they laugh together, eat together and enjoy each other's company. Despite the fact that Dan and Sasha live in a more expensive part of London, in a bigger house and that Sasha doesn't work but spends most of her time spending Dan's hard earned money, they really are the best of friends. Josh and Hannah work hard in ordinary jobs and struggle to fit everything into their tiny flat but Dan and Sasha are generous friends; helping out with childcare at the last minute, treating them to lunch and weekends away - doing what friends do.
When Dan shockingly announces that he is leaving Sasha after eight years of what seemed to be a happy marriage, the other couple are put in a really difficult position. Determined not to take sides, both Josh and Hannah struggle to come to terms with the breakdown of their friend's relationship.
Very quickly, things spiral out of control. Bitterness and resentment, accusations and hints of violence begin to take over the lives of the two couples. Dan and Sasha's crumbling relationship exposes cracks in Josh and Hannah's marriage too, making them aware of their own faults and problems. Eventually none of them know who or what to believe, or just how this is going to end.
Tamar Cohen has written a brilliantly gripping and chilling story in The Broken. With clever twists and turns in each chapter and the addition of pages from the diary of a small girl dotted in between the current happenings, she leaves the reader on a knife edge throughout. I found myself frantically turning the pages, whilst holding my breath with anticipation of what was going to be revealed next.
As with her previous novels, Tamar Cohen has created characters that are flawed and often unreliable, but always incredibly realistic. Each of the four main players can appear selfish, annoying and at times weak, however this only adds volumes to what is an excellently crafted novel that packs a punch that left me reeling.
Many readers will recognise the effects that relationship failure can have on people who we really thought we knew inside out, and also how this can affect our own feelings, emotions and relationship. The hysterics, the grieving, the battle to get back what is lost and the depths that people will go to to hurt each other are all played out in this incredible battle of the spouses.
There is a darkness that lurks just beneath the surface of the main plot line of the story, with evidence that both Sasha and Hannah have experienced trauma in their earlier lives, and it is is knowledge that makes the reader question almost everything that is said and done by both characters. The revelation at the end of the story delivers an almighty OMG moment that ultimately changes the whole story for the reader.
Tamar Cohen is an exciting author who can build suspense expertly. Her characterisation is brilliant, her imagination and plotting is almost genius. The Broken is a superb psychological suspense thriller, I loved every page of it.
Huge thanks to Leanne Oliver from Transworld who sent my copy for review.
Tamar Cohen is a freelance journalist. A later starter to fiction (and to other things besides), The Broken is her fourth novel; her previous three novels, The Mistress's Revenge, The War of the Wives, and Someone Else's Wedding, are also published by Doubleday. She is a Writer in Residence at Kingston University and lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog.
Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen