Nicci French: Tuesday’s Gone (2012)

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein thought she was done with the police. But once more DCI Karlsson is knocking at her door.

A man’s decomposed body has been found in the flat of Michelle Doyce, a woman trapped in a world of strange mental disorder. The police don’t know who it is, how he got there or what happened – and Michelle can’t tell them. But Karlsson hopes Frieda can get access to the truths buried beneath her confusion.

A few months ago I read and reviewed Blue Monday, the first in the new series written by writer duo Nicci French. I thoroughly enjoyed it as you can read here and was looking forward to the sequel. Tuesday’s Gone is the second novel in the series with psychotherapist Frieda Klein and DCI Karlsson. I didn’t expect it but I’m glad to say that this book was even far better than the last. The characters are more rounded, the story is much more suspenseful and some loose strands of the first book are nicely tied together. The only bad news is, you should read Blue Monday first as the sequel contains numerous spoilers, even mentioning the solution to part one.

Who is this man the police find in Michelle Doyce’s apartment, sitting on a sofa, naked and decomposed? The autopsy shows the man was murdered and since Michelle is a woman with a rare mental disorder it seems likely she killed him. Or at least the police would hope so as that would cut a lengthy investigation short and save a lot of tax money.

For some reason DCI Karlsson isn’t happy with this interpretation and asks psychotherapist Frieda Klein to talk to Michelle. Frieda is no expert in this type of disorder and consults with a specialist. As hard as it is to talk to Michelle, they find a way to communicate and it seems highly unlikely she committed the crime.

Frieda thinks it’s far more crucial to find out who the man was. It takes a while and they discover that his name is Robert Poole but when they inform his brother that they found his body they are in for a surprise. Robert Poole died six years ago. It looks as if the dead man on the sofa used a fake identity, had a lot of money transferred to a bank account in Poole’s name and withdrew it again on the day of his murder.

While the police are willing to pay Frieda for her work, like in the first book she does a lot of research on her own account. One cannot shake the feeling that a lot of what she does has something to do with personal atonement.

Once they find out that the victim was a con man and they start interrogating some of his victims, the book gets really interesting. There are many loose ends but they are all tied together in the end. Some elements of part two are still important in this part and will also play a role in the next.

We get to know Frieda much better in this book, some of her family history is revealed, her love life gets a new twist. DCI Karlsson and some other secondary characters are further developed. And once more the location, the city of London, plays an important part and we learn a few interesting historical facts while following Frieda on her nightly walks through her beloved town. While the book has a satisfying ending, there are clearly indications that there will be a third part soon.

I really enjoyed Tuesday’s Gone and could hardly put it down. While the first in the series had some minor flaws Tuesday’s Gone is as good as Nicci French’s standalones. This has turned into a really gripping series with complex, flawed but likable main characters.

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.