Nicci French: Waiting for Wednesday (2013)

Waiting for Wednesday

If you follow this blog you know I’m a fan of crime writing duo Nicci French. Having read the first two in the Frieda Klein series and spotting number four on the shelves of a local bookshop, I had to finally read Waiting for Wednesday. I really like this series, despite the fact that this is the weakest of the three. It’s an in-between book, a warm up for what will come next. That doesn’t mean it’s not gripping, it’s just that there are two plot-lines, which run parallel, and Frieda isn’t really part of the main plot, but investigating something else.

The book starts strong. Ruth Lennox, a middle-aged housewife with an untarnished reputation and a slightly perfectionist streak when it comes to housekeeping, is found brutally murdered. Her smallest daughter, Dora, finds her when she comes back from school. Why would anyone want to kill a perfect mother and wife, a model neighbour? Maybe she isn’t as exemplary as everyone believes? DCI Karlsson investigates this murder, unfortunately not with the help of psychotherapist Frieda Klein, but with another therapist, Hal Bradshaw,  who hates Frieda’s guts. Although Karlsson is told not to use Frieda’s help, he goes to see her anyway, as he senses the assigned therapist is pompous and useless.

Like in the other books of the series, Frieda’s private life takes a lot of space. Her last case with Karlsson has left her wounded and somewhat traumatized. I can’t reveal too much because that would spoil book number two. In any case, she’s not safe. Or will not always be safe and she knows that.

Her home is Frieda’s refuge. She loves her small house in London, but in this book she hardly ever has it to herself, as it’s invaded by friends and family and finally even by the family of the murdered woman because her niece, Chloë, is friends with the oldest boy.

While Karlsson and his team feverishly investigate the murder, Frieda’s rival, psychotherapist Hal Bradshaw, plays a dirty trick on her, trying to discredit her and some other therapists. A minor thing someone mentions in this charade, makes Frieda look for a girl who has gone missing a while ago. During her investigation, her path crosses with that of a journalist who has spent his whole life investigating the cases of missing girls.

It’s typical for Frieda that she puts herself at risk, so, once again, she makes a narrow escape – that’s not a spoiler as book 4 is already out and we know she’ll survive. Frieda’s love life has gained more importance as well, although her boyfriend Sandy lives in New York.

The book switches from the Ruth Lennox case to Frieda’s investigations and her life. Since Nicci French are excellent at what they do, the book felt seamless. It may not have been as gripping as the last, but it sure put me in the mood to grab the next one right away.

I would recommend this book if you like the series, but I’m not so sure how well it works when you haven’t read the first two. Starting with this one isn’t a good option as book two would be seriously spoilt.

Here’s Guy’s take on the novel. 

58 thoughts on “Nicci French: Waiting for Wednesday (2013)

    • I still liked it but only because I’ve read the first two but it’s not on the same level. I have hopes for the next and from what i saw so far, it’s better again.

    • I think I’ve got one of her novels but didn’t feel tempted so far. I’m alos not tempted to read some of the older books. I don’t like hostage stories or stories in which someone is captured in a room.

  1. Thanks for covering another mystery writer that writes in a series, Caroline. I struggle to keep my mother in mystery books that either have more than one in a series with the same detective or main characters, or ones that are at least by the same author. She started out with P.D. James who is her favorite of all time and whom she measures everyone else against, but in the last few years, she’s started not reading but listening to audiobooks of the mysteries, and not everyone or every mystery of someone she likes has made it to the audiobook version yet. I’m hoping that her local library will have some Nicci French for her to start on the next time she goes. It’s certainly been “slim pickin’s” lately.

    • Does she like Ruth Rendel”s Inspector Wexford series.? I think that could be compared to P.D.James but only from what I’ve heard. I know Rendell but haven’t read P.D.James yet.
      She might like Louise Penny. I’ve sworn to read her whole series. She’s Canadian.

      • I’m not sure about Ruth Rendell, I think she’s one of the ones she doesn’t like. She doesn’t like anything kitschy, like, is it B. J. Bolton, or someone, or the cat mystery books, she’s not very much into imagining that a cat and dog (Sneaky Pie Brown and friend, for example) can solve a mystery. She’s an accountant, so very practically oriented, likes lots of descriptions of what foods they’re eating, what they’re wearing, likes lots of clues, doesn’t mind a certain number of “red herrings,” and isn’t tolerant of any cut corners in detection or any mistakes. Yes, she’s read Louise Penny and loves her, is constantly waiting for another Penny to come out on audiobooks, and allows her to be at least the handmaiden of P.D. James, the mighty queen. A tough crowd, my mother!

        • Ruth Rendell is not kitschy, so I wonder id it’s really her. And S.J.Bolton was rather edgy as well. But maybe she just doesn’t like them for other reasons. If she likes Louise Penny how about Peter Robinson?

          • Sorry, i must’ve put my sentences together wrong: I didn’t mean to seem to say that Rendell was kitschy, in fact I’ve heard her spoken of as a mystery writer with genuine literary abilities and talents, though I’ve never read her myself yet. I just meant to put the point to my mother’s casting disdain on anything she herself finds kitschy. I think the reason she didn’t like S. J. Bolton, if I have the right mystery writer in mind, is because she read one or two of them in a series, and the author kept teasing and drawing away again and teasing and drawing away again, as to whether or not the main character was going to have a romance. Now, my mother, as I said, is an accountant, and she has a habit, developed from that occupation, of having all her ducks in a row, almost all the time. She doesn’t read in a sophisticated fashion, really. By that I mean that whereas a sophisticated reader might be quite a determined character in his or her own way and yet be able to enjoy reading about a wishy-washy character or someone who couldn’t make up their mind, my mother is likely to get impatient both with the character and the author as if they were one person for this breach of the order of business. She’s intelligent in the extreme, but not a sophisticated reader, and she has no real liking for satire or parody, even of character types sometimes–and you probably know how often these satire-like elements can turn up in good mysteries. I will try her out on Peter Robinson and Nicci French and see if when she can get them on audiobooks she likes them. I really appreciate your taking the time to make suggestions, because she’s already been through most every one of the mystery writers her library has to offer, at least the ones she’s heard recommended.

            • If she doesn’t like S.J. Bolton then she might not like Nicci French as the main characters are equally troubled and a lot is slow burning, so to speak. I think she likes no-nonsense cops/investigators better. Robinson should be for her.
              Let me know what she thought of it, if she tries him.

              • Maybe the name was “Something Beaton,” not “S. J. Bolton.” At any rate, thanks for the reference to Robinson. I’ll also go ahead and try her on Nicci French too by appealing to her curiosity at a wife-and-husband authorial team and see if I can slip one past the censor. It may just be a case of picking the right “slow burning,” as you put it.

  2. I love nicci french. The book ‘until it’s over’ is by far my favorite. The freida klein series are nice though can be a bit of a drag at moments…I have still read all 4 in the series…just finished with thursday’s children.

    • I can’t believe I’ve not read “Until it’s over”. Thanks for mentioning that. I loved all of those I’ve read. Some a bit more, some a bit less. I’ll be reading Thursday’s Children soon.

  3. I think almost more so than any series I can think of these need to be read as one long ongoing story. Perhaps it is because I assume that there will just be the seven of them and that a story arc for the entire series has already been plotted before the first was begun. If you like these have you tried Kate Rhodes? There are two out at the moment and a third due imminently. They’re not dissimilar and well worth a read.

    • You are so right. id’ alos say, calling it a series is a bit misleading. I was assuming they’d write 7 as well. Seems logical. This one was a bit of a breather but I’m sure the next will be better.
      Oooh. Thanks for the recommendation. Will have to hunt for her right away.

    • Can you tell me what sort of detective Kate Rhodes has? Is it a psychiatrist, or a police detective, a private eye or a “meddling” private citizen? Or etc.? She sounds like she may be of interest.

  4. Speaking of wonderful crime and mystery series, how do you feel about the old “Inspector Morse” mysteries on the telly with John Thaw? My mother absolutely doted on those when we got them in the States a number of years ago, but now that they’ve got the new series here (the series called “Endeavour,” which is supposed to be about Morse when he was young, in the fifties), she is a bit reluctant to watch them. Different actor, of course. I don’t know his name, though I recognize him from other roles. Was “Endeavour” supposed to be the first name Morse would never reveal, do you know, or do I have another detective in mind? And do you like “Endeavour”? I think I do, though I’ve only seen one episode so far. Do either of these series come from a book series, do you know, or just scripts?

      • Do you recall the title and author of the Morse book you read? I really liked the opera element, or at least the musical one, because he was always going to an Oxford concert or listening to an opera, which gave him ideas and clues. Or working crossword puzzles, I think that was another of his traits. I especially liked the funny relationship between him and his younger co-hort, Inspector Lewis. They later made a series called “Inspector Lewis,” using the same (older) second-string actor who’d been in the Morse ones. He ended up having a special relationship with his assistant too, though for some reason, that series didn’t seem to last. And then there’s the mystery series which I know for a fact came from books (but oddly enough, English mysteries written by an American woman), about an English male aristocrat (can’t recall his name) who is also a police inspector and who has a female Cockney assistant named Havers (she’s a really interesting character). I for some reason am having a lot of “senior moments” this week, and can’t recall the main character’s name, but the author’s last name was, I think, George. There were several books in this series, and it was on television for a number of seasons.

        • Hi again, Caroline. I took a chance that some of the info on the writer (Elizabeth) George might be in Wikipedia, and it was. The name of her main character is “Inspector Lynley,” his assistant is “Barbara Havers,” and there are 18 mysteries in the series so far, from 1988-2013. I haven’t read them yet, but I did see them on tv, some of them. Another pairing of main detective and assistant which is very interesting. I always like it more when there’s a character drama involved between the detectives. Haver’s elderly parent (I can’t remember whether it’s mother or father) also has Alzheimer’s in part of the series, which gives her a challenge to do her job.

          • I thought it was Elizabeth George. I’ve read her book on writing which I find very, very good. But I haven’t read any of her novels. I got a lot of catch up to do when it comes to classic crime writing.
            I liked Linda Castillo. It’s set among the Amish, so quite special but the detective is a great charcater and the writing’s smooth.

  5. Nice review, Caroline. I read my first Nicci French book last year and loved it. I will look for this series – I will try to read from the first volume. It is interesting that Nicci Gerrard is coming out with a standalone novel. I have heard that she has done that in the past – writing standalone novels. I am wondering what it is about and whether it is also a mystery like the regular Nicci French novels. I enjoyed reading your conversation with Victoria (Shadowoperator). I read a P.D.James book for the first time for book club. Unfortunately, it was one of her recent ones and so I didn’t really like it as much as I had hoped to. I hope to explore some of her earlier books sometime. I loved her book ‘Talking about Detective Fiction’ though. She talks about how detective fiction has evolved across the years in that book and it was awesome and a treat for detective novel fans. I want to try a Louise Penny book sometime. She sounds quite interesting from what both of you say. Another author I want to try is Linda Castillo. I loved your review of one her books in the Kate Burkholder series. I hope to read that sometime.

    • Thanks, Vishy. I hope you’ll like it. It’s better to start this series with book 1. As Alex pointed out, it’s really more of a long novel.
      I need to read a P.D.James and would love to read what she wrote about crime fiction. Thanks for telling me about it.
      I’ve been thinking of Linda Castillo and am actually in the mood to go back and start with the first. I really enjoyed it. I’m collecting the Louise Penny novels because I liked the first so much. I should really read them.

    • Hi, Vishy. It sounds like you’re well on your way to being an expert on detective fiction! Thanks for the name “Linda Castillo.” That gives me another writer’s name to run away with. I don’t know if you’ve read (among early P.D. James) “Cover Her Face,” but that one is considered both a classic James and one of her best.

      • Thanks for the recommendation, Victoria. I will add ‘Cover Her Face’ to my ‘TBR’ list and I will look for it. I used to read a lot of detective fiction once upon a time 🙂 Have you read
        A.A.Milne’s ‘The Red House Mystery’? It is a classic detective mystery and one of the finest ones that I have read. He is more known as the creator of Winnie the Pooh and this was the only mystery novel he wrote. Wish he had written more. I also want to read Ngaio Marsh sometime. She is spoken of in the same breath as P.D.James and Ruth Rendell. And she is also from New Zealand which is one more reason I want to read her works 🙂

          • It is the only mystery novel her wrote, Caroline. It is more in the tradition of Agatha Christie, and it is very, very good. I got it during my pre-blogging days when I used to go to regular bookstores regularly and look at the books in the new arrival section. I miss making book discoveries like that nowadays.

        • Thanks, Vishy, for the lead to Milne. I will certainly look for it. I’ve heard of Ngaio Marsh, but never read anything she’s written yet. I don’t know if my mom has or not. As the poem says (though on another topic entirely) “Had we world enough and time….”!

          • Caroline, I just recommended your discussion and reading and your commentators’ thoughts to Steve (Ste J) at , because he is coincidentally also writing on mystery and crime fiction, with an emphasis in his case, however, on Raymond Chandler and “The Long Goodbye.” So, I just thought I would return the favor in the other direction as well, in case you’re interested in seeing his stuff too.

            • Vishy, do you know, I buy lots of books on the cheap; I eagerly accept books friends are finished with and want to give away; and I regularly comb through free stacks for treasures others might have missed. And as my book collection grows, my mother says to me, “What do you need more books for? You don’t need more books. You’re got enough in your library already that you haven’t read.” But that’s not the point, is it? You acquire books so that you can read them when you finish the books you’re working on now, and you give away only the ones you’re sure you don’t want to read again or use for some project, like a post. And of course, if you’re reading from a library as well, or a library’s website, this process gets a little delayed, and then……books, wonderful books! What would life be without them?

  6. I am a bit of a stickler about reading series in order. As you allude to Caroline, sometimes a book works just fine as a part of a sequence but falls a little flat on its own.

    It sounds as if Frieda’s home life helps keep the series interesting.

    • Her personal life is part of the appeal. Of course, the fact that she’s a psychotherapist has a lot to do with that as well.
      This is one of those series best read in order.

  7. The title intrigued me to read your review.
    Sounds like an interesting book but this reminds me of ringu trilogy because the next book spoilt the first one. It’s tough to read a series like that

    • Yes it is. You can not read it out of order. This will be even longer than a trilogy, it will have seven parts, I guess – because of the tiltles. I think you’d like the author.

  8. I really need to read her. I am just finishing Simone van der Vlugt’s novel (which I know you read, too) and she is compared to Nicci French, so I am sure I would like NF as well–will start with the first book, however as I hate dropping into the middle of an already established storyline. I know what you mean by those in-between books. I have read almost all the Lynley mysteries and some feature other characters than the main ones and I am always just a tiny bit disappointed not to see my favorite characters in a particular story.

    • Yes, it’s disappointing, isn’t it? Frieda’s still very present but not that tied into the main story.
      I’m quite sure you’ll like Nicci French. This series or her standalones.

  9. I never knew Nicci French was a pseudonym and that they are a writing duo! Just goes to show how much I know about crime fiction. 🙂 I really like the ‘Lewis’ TV series – the spinoff from Inspector Morse – but that’s mostly because Oxford is so beautiful. Laurence Fox isn’t too shabby either. 🙂

    • I’ve never watched the series but I should give it a try. Morse is a sophisticated character, that much I remember.
      Yes, Nicci French is the pseudonym of a married couple.

  10. I love this series and already have this book – though I’m a bit disappointed to hear it’s one of those inbetweenies that set up future storylines. I don’t think you could possibly read these books out of order, not least because the entire plot of the first one, plus spoilers, is recounted at the beginning of the second. I’ve found Frieda Klein intriguing so far, with a mildly irritating edge (forever putting herself at risk being one of the annoying things she does). I really hope she’ll keep to the right side of intriguing in this latest outing!

    • Yes, it’s totally inbetween and she’s jumping head first into every dodgy situation, once more. 🙂
      It’s still entertaining and I’ll read the next but if that is another in-between thing, well then I’ll stick to their standalones.

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