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The best novels about friends hiding dark and dirty secrets – Shepherd Books

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved around non-stop as a kid, attending a dozen schools by age eleven. As a result, once I stayed put long enough to make real friends, I stuck to them like glitter glue. As a reader and writer, I can’t get enough stories about female friendships, whether rock-solid or fraying. My latest novel involves childhood friends whose loyalty is stretched like a pair of latex gloves yanked off at a crime scene. The book grew out of a meme I saw on Facebook, captioned: “Real friends help you hide the bodies”. My first thought was: who would I help? Straight off, I thought of my oldest friends.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of We Were Never Here

Elka RayWhy did I love this book?


I adore unreliable narrators—and here we have two, a pair of best friends on a dream backpacking vacation. Something terrible happens on their travels. Even worse, tragedy struck the last time they backpacked together. Worst luck ever? Or something more sinister?

I love the dynamics between this book’s flawed besties and the growing uncertainty about who can be trusted. This is one twisty read that’s deliciously creepy. It left me feeling lucky to have good friends in real life.

Book cover of The Villa

Elka RayWhy did I love this book?


Along with vivid characters, this book gives great house–a gorgeous and notorious Italian villa, which was the site of an infamous murder in the 1970s.

One friend, now hyper-successful, invites her old buddy to join her in the villa. The invitee becomes obsessed with solving the long-unsolved murder, and is increasingly sketched out by her old friend’s motives for asking her to come.

The story jumps back and forth from the swinging ‘70s to the present day, with tensions building in both past and present. The ending jump-scared me.

Book cover of The Secret Place

Elka RayWhy did I love this book?


I’m a huge sucker for stories involving teen girls and secrets—and no one handles this trope better than Tana French in this wildly atmospheric boarding school mystery.

A year after a boy’s found murdered at a secluded Irish school, a note appears on a bulletin board reading: “I know who killed him.” It’s soon clear that a lot of the girls know something. What though?

I love the dark academia vibe, the claustrophobia, and the girls, so close-knit and determined. This is a gorgeously written tale of friendship, loyalty, lies, and betrayal, just buzzing with witchy teen energy.

Book cover of Never Have I Ever

Elka RayWhy did I love this book?


If you haven’t discovered Joshilyn Jackson, you’re in for a treat. Her Domestic Suspense novels are so sharp, cleverly plotted, and darkly funny.

It’s not old friends but new ones that wreak havoc in Never Have I Ever, as a glamorous “bad girl” newcomer joins the local book club—with ulterior motives.

This is a tale of the secrets people hope will stay hidden, manipulation, and below-the-surface danger, told with wry insights about human nature and crackling humor.

Book cover of Big Little Lies

Elka RayWhy did I love this book?


If anyone’s life seems perfect, you can be sure that it isn’t. Big Little Liesfollows a group of school moms, in a nice neighborhood, who bond and support each other while hiding massive secrets.

Liane Moriarty is a master at crafting relatable characters who feel real, like people you know from the school gates, only more glamorous. The idyllic suburban setting is equally vivid, while the twists keep coming. This isn’t a typical whodunnit but an exploration of the truths women hide from themselves and each other.

You’ve probably read it already, but if you haven’t–grab it.

I wrote…

A Friend Indeed

By Elka Ray

Book cover of A Friend Indeed

What is my book about?


Your best friend killed someone. She needs your help to dispose of the body. You love–and owe–her. A friend in need is a friend indeed…

Delve into a twisty tale of loyalty, social disparity, and heavy secrets as a lifelong friendship is stretched to its limits. When Jo was jobless and penniless, Dana secured her a teaching job and thus an opportunity for a new life in an affluent Pacific Northwest town. So, when Jo gets a frantic late-night call from Dana, sobbing and desperate for help, it feels like a chance to help her friend in return. But the last thing Jo expects to see is her friend’s husband dead.

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