Friend Request plays the ultimate Catfishing game with the reader. Who is really behind a dead woman’s Facebook profile? Can the things we thought were buried eventually track us down? And what will it mean when they do? Laura Marshall’s gripping debut twists and turns into the darkly personal – friendship, love, sex and the secrets that lie beneath.
When Louise – a recently divorced single mum and successful interior designer – receives a friend request from Maria Weston, she slams her laptop shut, hands shaking. Maria Weston is dead and Louise has been pushing down the memory of her – of all that happened back in high school – for more than two decades. Now those memories have come flooding back.
And surely it’s no coincidence that this is happening right before the Class of 1989 Sharne Bay High reunion? So…does someone know her secret? The ugly truth of what she did all those years ago? Because, back in 1989 when Maria first transferred to Sharne Bay High, all she had wanted was to be Louise’s friend. But what happened to Maria has the power to ruin Louise’s life.
Slipping between 1989 and 2016, Laura Marshall slowly peels back the layers of memory, guilt and perception – to reveal a much deeper, uglier secret at the heart of relationships forged in high school. Social media can reconnect us with those we thought were lost. But it is also the ultimate mask: who is really behind the filtered social media reality? As the messages from ‘Maria Weston’ start to become more sinister, Louise is force to confront the mask she has worn. But also, seek answers about who is really behind the ghostly online presence. Is Maria alive and seeking revenge? Because what happens online has consequences in real life.
At its core, this book is a creepy reminder that we don’t know who has access to the personal things we post online – our lives, our jobs, our partners, our children. Not-to-mention the eternal themes of love and sex, friendship and betrayal, sex, violence and consent. This truly is a thriller for the social media age, and the all-too-real people that lurk behind it.
Friend Request is Laura Marshall’s first novel. It was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2016, and was runner-up in the Bath Novel Award 2016. Laura lives with her family in Kent.