Magazine article The Spectator

The Plot Thickens

Magazine article The Spectator

The Plot Thickens

Article excerpt

Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French Michael Joseph, £12.99, pp. 464, ISBN 9780718156954 The husband-and-wife team that is Nicci French wrote 12 standalone psychological thrillers before switching to a series with last year's Blue Monday. Their central character, Frieda Klein, a psychotherapist who moonlights as a quasi-detective, returns in Tuesday's Gone, together with a number of other characters, including the melancholy DCI Malcolm Karlsson and his team.

The book begins promisingly with a Deptford social worker visiting a middleaged woman with dementia, only to find that her client is serving tea and iced buns to a naked man sitting on her sofa. To make matters more piquant, the man is a rotting, fly-ridden corpse with a missing finger. As always, French excels at such opening situations, bringing to them a touch of the macabre and the shock of the unexpected.

Frieda has unfinished business carried over from Blue Monday. She's the subject of a professional inquiry because of a complaint from one of those involved in the previous case. (It's not necessary to have read the first book, but it really does help if you have. ) Nevertheless, the police unofficially recruit her to assist in the investigation. They themselves are under internal pressure because the investigation is being shadowed by a cost-cutting management consultant.

The corpse on the sofa is identified as a con man with a genius for empathising with his victims; he is, in effect, a dark doppelg£nger for Frieda herself, equally adept at feeling his way into the minds of other people. …

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