Author – Nicci French
Published – 2011
Genre – Crime fiction
I’ve been reading the books from the writing duo of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French since, thanks to the irresistible cover, I bought their first novel “The Memory Game”. I’ve been hooked on their contemporary psychological thrillers ever since. The new title Blue Monday, however, is a departure for them – the first in a series (apparently of 8 titles) featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein.
Klein feels perhaps a little older & certainly more grown up than the central characters have been in the past. A professional woman, with her own practice, she’s an insomniac with a quiet and unhurried approach to things. She has a relatively new relationship which she’s taking slowly, and a home which is an escape from the troubled minds she deals with during the day.
The book opens with a short chapter set in 1987, describing the disappearance of a little girl on her way home from school and the fruitless search for her by the police. Shift to present day and we’re quickly introduced to Klein, walking the streets of London at night, and then Alan Dekker, soon to be a patient of Klein’s.
The pace then slows as we’re introduced to a few more minor characters in the story – Klein’s former mentor, a ukrainian builder, and some of Klein’s family. Klein begins her treatment of Dekker and as he opens up to her, she begins to suspect that his dreams may be related to a missing boy, a boy that he seems to have unwittingly described in accurate detail. Eventually Klein feels bound to tell the police of her suspicions, bringing her into contact with the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson.
Despite Karlsson’s skepticism he follows up on Klein’s information and then because of the similarities between the two cases, he introduces her to the sister of the little girl lost in 1987. Klein then becomes involved in the investigation in what seems to be quite an informal relationship with Karlsson (can that happen?).
There is one aspect of the book that I found particularly striking, and without wanting to give too much away (SPOILER ALERT) I thought the insight into the feelings of a small child were very well written. I also think that the main theme of the book is quite thought-provoking, and given time is something I’d be curious to find more about.
What I really like about the previous books by Nicci French was the feeling that it could be you caught up in the middle of whatever nightmare they were describing. You felt as if you were in the middle of the action, something Blue Monday lacks, I’m afraid. It’s a good twisting story, but it doesn’t have the nail-biting tension of the earlier titles. What worries me more, though, is that the writers will go down the tried and tested route which will see Klein become the target of whoever is being pursued. Let’s hope not.
The book certainly feels like it is doing quite a lot of scene setting for Klein’s character in the future and presumably her ongoing relationship with Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson. I feel as if I’m making some allowances, I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the book, and I did, but not as much as their standalone thrillers.
Score – 4/5