Nicci French: Blue Monday (2011)

I have read a few novels by Nicci French in the past and always thought they were very entertaining. Not the height of the psychological thriller realm but nicely paced and interesting. All of their (Nicci French is the pseudonym of a married couple writing together) novels are stand-alone thrillers. When I read that they had written the first book in a new series I was very interested to read it.

Blue Monday introduces psychotherapist Frieda Klein and Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson. I suppose we will see both of them again in the next novel but Frieda Klein is the more important character of the two.

One of the problems I have with a lot of the mainstream thrillers and crime novels is what I call “dodgy psychology”. You could also call it pseudo-psychology. This type of psychological explanation was the reason why I did not like Nesbø’s The Snowman. With Blue Monday we are on the same terrain but, funny enough, I liked it anyway. This is as much a thriller as a novel about London. The descriptions of the city are very well done. Another reason why I didn’t mind reading the book was that Frieda Klein is an appealing character. At the beginning of the novel she is just breaking up with someone because he will move to the States and she doesn’t want to follow him. She is deeply rooted in London and in her little house that feels like a den to her. Frieda  is a solitary person and likes to spend a lot of time on her own. Sometimes, plagued by insomnia, she will roam the silent streets of the big city at night. I liked these parts. She used to work in a clininc but has now her own practice.

A little boy is abducted in a way that reminds Detective Karlsson of another abduction twenty years ago. At the same time a man is seeing Frieda because he is suffering of panic attacks and nightmares. The nightmares circle around a little boy whose description reminds Frieda of the one who has been abducted. Frieda cannot put her finger on it but she has a feeling that there is a connection. She reports what she has found out to the police who do not belive her in the beginning.

I’m not going to write anything more about the story, the reader knows soon enough in what direction it goes (another weakness of the book, by the way). Frieda and Karlsson will work very closely together from then on. If you want to find out who abducted the little boy and whether they will find him alive, you will have to read the book.

As I said, despite it’s flaws I found Blue Monday readable because I liked Frieda and the descriptions of London. I’m often not interested in the mystery or the solution to it and enjoy all sorts of other aspects in crime novels and thrillers but if you are someone who loves a mystery, stay away from this book. The solution is very lame, to say the least, and the explanations are far from convincing. The end however is surprising.

This was my fourth and last book contribution to  Carl’s R.I.P. VI challenge. I’m still joining the group read and have planned on doing a post for Peril on the Screen. If you want to visit the review site, you can find it here.

27 thoughts on “Nicci French: Blue Monday (2011)

  1. I’d like the sound of this – particularly because it features a psychologist – only I am so bored of every crime novel I pick up being about children in peril. There are SO many similar stories out there! It’s not a storyline I even like because it’s so obvious. What will grip the reader and upset them most readily – the thought of a child being mistreated or threatened! Yes! Let’s shamelessly manipulate the reader!

    I would be so much more impressed by a novel that made me care desperately about the plight of an ordinary middle-aged man or woman, someone I didn’t expect to have to care about at all. Okay, rant over! 🙂

    • I do agree and think it was one of the reasons why I didn’t care about the child. Not because I do not care about children but because my buttons can’t be pushed that easily. I might give the second one a try. I found Frieda compelling and they way London is portrayed was nice.

  2. I rather agree with Litlove above.
    If you want to read mysteries with psychologists, you have Franck Tallis (makes you want to go to Vienna at once) and Jed Rubenfeld

  3. haha this is clearly one of your non-convincing review, I mean you like it but you also mentions the flaws like something you dislike. I am not sure whether to be eager to read the book or eager to avoid. However I also understand your feeling. I guess I am in same position as yours when it relates to davinci code. That book has so many flaws and guessable, but I love Silas’ character so much and his presence made me like the book.

    • I hope you will like it. I liked quite a few of the older ones but this one hasn’t such a convincing premise. I can’t reveal whyt it is or I would spoil it completely. I’m still going to read the next in this series because it could get better and I liked that character.

  4. Doesn’t sound like one I’d enjoy. I hardly ever read thrillers or crime novels. For some reason whenever I see Detective this or Sergeant that, my eyes just glaze over and I think of all the dull police procedurals that have clogged up Sunday-evening TV ever since I was a child. Not fair, I know – I’m sure there are some really good crime novels that are nothing like that, but it’s just a predudice of mine. I like London novels so would appreciate the city descriptions, but still I won’t be looking for this one.

    • These Sunday evening movies are the essence of “dull and boring” for me but I love crime and thrillers. is it possible you never read Chandler? If so, you should at least try The Long Goodbye. He was the first crime author I ever read and he is still for me the best example how literary crime can be. His social criticism is as actual today as it was then.
      I agree, Blue Monday isn’t an absolute must-read and certainly not the one that would make you go for more.

    • Not all are equally good but the good ones are very good. I think the solution to this one wasn’t 100%convincing but I’m still interested to read the next one.

  5. Nice review, Caroline! I have been wanting to read a Nicci French book for a while, after seeing it in a bookshop here. French’s books seem to have a fast-paced plot and look like they are quite gripping. Sad that ‘Blue Monday’ doesn’t seem to be strong on the mystery front. But glad to know that you liked the book for its other aspects.

    • Thanks, Vishy. I haven’t read Secret Smile yet but I think that one and Land of the Living are considered to be two of the best. I enjoyed Killing Me Softly and The Memory Game. They made it into a movie but the book is much better.
      I did like other aspects and since the character and the setting are likely to be in the next one, I’ll give it a try.

  6. I read my first by them this year, Beneath the Skin. I enjoyed it and want to read more, I have considered this one but the reviews are all so so. I appreciate you giving the good and not well executed.

    • They have written a lot of good ones, no need to read this one right away. Maybe if the second in the series is good…. Smile Please, Land of the Living and The Memory Game are better choices. I’m glad it came across that it’s not an awful book but very flawed.

  7. Pingback: Blue Monday by Nicci French | His Futile Preoccupations….

  8. Pingback: Nicci French: Tuesday’s Gone (2012) « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  9. Pingback: Nicci French: Secret Smile (2004) « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  10. Pingback: Nicci French: Thursday’s Children (2014) | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  11. Pingback: Nicci French: Friday On My Mind (2015) Frieda Klein 5 | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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