Like an old friend who’s been through a journey with you, sometimes irritating, sometimes boring but most times providing warm companionship, The Little Friend came to its conclusion tonight as I sat in my reading couch, reading and turning the pages in silence, engrossed and excited and yet, knowing that with each page, I am closer to saying goodbye to the adorable characters – feisty Harriet Cleve Dufresnes and Hely Hull. So, very reluctantly, I read on until at midnight, I reached the end.

The pace quickened considerably towards the middle part of the last chapter as consequences of Harriet’s plans play out with a deadly ending. Just as suspicion got the better of her, her shennanigans around the Ratliff residence unsettled the mind of Farish Ratliff and pitted brother against brother as each one suspected the other of plotting against him. Things come to ahead when Danny pulls out a gun and shoots Farish in the head and neck, and then kills his two police dogs.

Tartt does a good job of building the suspense up in the driving scene, with Danny getting all jittery and worked up over his need to urinate – of all things! And suddenly, it explodes onto the scene – gun pulled out, trigger pulled twice, Farish slumps over. Danny steps out of the car, throws the gun away, recomposes himself, retrieves the gun and walks back to the car, and through the window, shoots Farish’s two police dogs in the car. And shortly after that, another scene with Harriet inside the water tower where the Ratliffs’ illicit stash of meth and ice was kept hidden, and an angry Danny Ratliff pushing Harriet under the water trying to drown her. She survives by holding her breath and pretending to be lifeless. He releases his grip and walks away, but his weight on the rickety tower causes the timber planks to give way and he falls into the dark water of the tank just as Harriet scrambles up a rusty ladder to safety. He grabs a hold of her ankle, she kicks him away and he tries to go for the ladder which in turns, breaks away. And he falls back into the water, jumping up to the surface to breath.

In the end, he survives after two days of bobbing up and down in the tank; is arrested for the ‘attempted murder’ of his brother – much to the relief of Harriet who thought she’d be responsible for his death in the tank when she left him in there. We are told that Farish survived the shooting but was not expected to “make it through the night”.

So some questions linger. What’s Danny Ratliff going to do about Harriet when he gets out of jail? He knew her face and connected her to Edie Cleve. We know now that Danny Ratliff was not responsible for Robin’s death, so who is? That’s unsolved.

The Little Friend in conclusion – I guess it’s all about people wanting to move on. And some people who are contented to just stay in the present, not wanting more or less, no dreams for better things. And in some ways, it’s about people being stuck in the past and unable to let go of events that happened long ago – events that happened out of their control and yet, controlling them in every way.

I still feel sad, as I always do when a book comes to an end, to say goodbye to the characters that I’ve grown attached to. Harriet and Hely, and her aunts. Ida Rhew. The book now goes on my shelf but I know whenever I feel like it, I can still reach out for it, turn to a page early in the book and once more, little Harriet Cleve Dufresnes comes to life and everything starts anew.

The Little Friend is a thick book and it took me exactly a month to finish it, reading almost everyday, sometimes a page a day because of my schedule. Out of 10, I give it a 7. The pace is nice, Tartt’s language is simple wonderful and very very descriptive. She’s brilliant at describing scenes and you can even almost hear the soundtrack to them as if watching a movie. A bit protracted though the parts with the Ratliffs but I suppose that was necessary for the reader to make a connection with them and to understand what they were all about. Would I recommend this? Yes, most definitely.