Written by Nicci French — The great thing about reading a well-written book is that it puts the reader slap-bang in the heart of the action, to the point where real life recedes and the printed world is paramount. Such is the magic of the Frieda Klein days-of-the-week series from the pens of writing partners (and married couple) Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.
Frieda is a psychotherapist, but is never content with merely unravelling the mysteries of the mind. Instead, like a boho version of Miss Marple, she invariably falls into the trap of sticking her nose where it might not be wanted. That insatiable curiosity has made her enemies on both sides of the law – and at times it is difficult to distinguish between friend and foe.
It also tends to get her into hot water, and when a favour is called in by a shady group who helped her out of the mire in one of her many misadventures, Frieda can’t say no. Thirteen years ago, 18-year-old Hannah Docherty was sent to a secure hospital after being convicted of the brutal murder of her mother, step-father and young brother. The evidence was overwhelming and the case made banner headlines – now Frieda is asked to visit Hannah and assess her state of mind and what she finds chills her to the core.
Hannah is a wreck, covered in bruises, uncommunicative and broken, but Frieda peers behind the facade and comes to a frightening conclusion – what if the young woman denounced as a multi-murderer is nothing more than a victim of a flawed police investigation?
Visit over, favour repaid in full – but there is no way Frieda can walk away and leave a woman who she believes is innocent languishing behind bars. Trouble is, there are very few people who agree with her assessment and as she keeps digging, her solo investigation becomes ever more dangerous – because if Hannah didn’t commit the murders, then who did?
Opening the pages of a Nicci French book is almost like joining a community and whether you are a newcomer or a return visitor, you’ll soon feel completely at home. I love Frieda, her meandering, insightful thought processes, her long walks through quiet, vaguely unsettling London at the dead of night, and her weird and wonderful friends – handyman-come-vodka bearer Josef being a firm favourite. There is always a shifting selection of new people too, and top of the pile in this book is blogger, conspiracy theorist and hoarder Erin Brack, who could prove to be more than a hindrance than a help to Frieda in her quest for the truth.
There are conundrums aplenty to put to bed before the final full stop and it is the sign of a good psychological thriller when things are still up in the air as the ‘to be read’ pages dwindle almost to nought. I’m still taken aback at how cleverly executed those last few pages proved to be.
I’ve read several of the Frieda Klein series – and in my opinion, this is the best yet. Ever since Blue Monday, Frieda and her ever-changing supporting cast have hogged the top spot in the best-sellers lists. We’re now at Saturday – and that gut-wrenching finale will leave you on tenterhooks, waiting impatiently for Sunday and whatever it may bring.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars