My Best Friend is an absorbing story of the effects of family violence and secrets reaching from WWII England to tthe present day. The main character, Gerald, is the son of a much loved author of children's books, but his family life was far from the fantasy presented in the books. His older sister was murdered,his twin died at birth,and Gerald grew up to be a very lonely, sad person whose only pleasure is seeing Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals hundreds of times. The story is told in rotating first person by Gerald's aged aunt Tilly, Gerald himself and Jo, his co-worker. When Jo's daughter goes missing, Gerald becomes the prime suspect. Wilson's books are very reminiscent of those of Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) in their exploration of psychological suspense.
This report prepared by Linda Sourpuss
Bantam, Jan 2002, 23.95,256 pp.
Gerald was one of those people who seem to always have a black cloud following him around. His mother, Marjorie Haldane a famous but high-strung writer of children's books, ignored her son almost from the day he was born because he wasn't the perfect baby she wanted. When he was about twelve he found the dead body of his pregnant sixteen year old sister Vera in the woods near his home. The police questioned Gerald before deciding the perpetrator was her boyfriend. Later on the police questioned Gerald again because he was always showing up to see the schoolgirls play soccer. They never had enough evidence to formally charge him but he was always fearful of law enforcement from that experience.
Now in his middle age Gerald lives a quiet life and the only real social contact he has is with his landlady. His co-worker Jo thinks he's an odd duck. When her boyfriend Ron tells her that twice before the police questioned Gerald in regards to young girls, she becomes concerned because her daughter Melanie tells her that a man answering to Gerald's description has been following her around. When Melanie disappears, Ron, Jo and the police immediately focus their attention on Gerald who's also vanished. This leads to the police alerting an angry public to be on the lookout for him, not realizing that someone working behind the scenes is stirring the angry the crowd into a riotous mob.
This is a superb work of psychological suspense told from the view points of three people, Gerald, Jo and Gerald's Aunt Lillie. British author Laura Wilson imbues her novel with a Gothic feeling of foreboding so that the audience senses that something terrible is going to happen at any moment. MY BEST FRIEND is a book well worth reading.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner