Author – Nicci French
Published – 30 June 2016
Genre – Crime fiction
This is the sixth in the series of eight books in the Frieda Klein series and despite my worries that I wouldn’t enjoy a Nicci French series I am starting to worry about how I will feel when we reach the end.
I normally read on my commute so it’s not often that I read for more than thirty or forty minutes but an extra day off work and some unexpected sunshine means that I started the book this morning and have finished it in one sitting (well, with breaks for coffee and biscuits). It’s such a treat to be able to do that when you’re really gripped by a book.
This story is much more of a conventional crime fiction plot. Frieda is asked to assess Hannah Docherty, a young woman who has been held in a secure hospital for thirteen years, having been convicted of murdering her family. Hannah’s ‘care’ seems to have been woefully inadequate and as anyone familiar with Frieda will expect, she is unable to leave the young woman without taking up Hannah’s cause. This leads Frieda to launch an investigation into the murders whilst on the periphery of her work with the police. In fact it’s good to see Frieda having some support from the police, although she does end up pushing the boundaries and taking matters into her own hands. Well she wouldn’t be Frieda if she didn’t.
There’s lots to love about Frieda but I particularly enjoyed the sessions she had with a patient. She listens and doesn’t really direct the woman but you feel that nevertheless she steers her in the right direction. She brings the same skill into play when she undertakes her own investigations – it’s always about the details and the people and not about the technical forensics or pathology.
We see a lot less of the regular characters that we’ve come to know though the series and certainly none of the huge group get-togethers that have peppered the earlier books. Although the characters all do make an appearance this is much more Frieda acting on her own and less her using the other characters as a sounding board. Frieda, as we know from ‘Friday’, needs the others around her, however peripherally.
This certainly has a different feel to it and perhaps it’s the sense that the series is drawing to the end and the loose ends are closer to being resolved. Dean Reeve continues to make his presence felt to give the underlying sense of tension that has permeated all the books. His physical presence is less than in some of the earlier titles, but we’re left in no doubt that he is still about. Of course we must now wonder, as we approach the climax of the series, what is it that Dean really wants…?
If you are wondering if you can pick the series up here – the answer is no! The book would make perfect sense on its own – the crime element is perfectly readable without knowing the characters and backstory – but this is very much an instalment in a longer story and I would recommend beginning with Blue Monday.
Many thanks to Penguin for the review copy.