I’m not always drawn to crime thrillers, I usually gravitate to other things, but Blue Monday by Nicci French caught my attention. It’s a new series featuring a psychotherapist who accidentally gets drawn into helping the cops solve a child abduction case.
Frieda Klein is not the most likable of protagonists. She’s brittle, humorless and a bit of a stick in the mud, which to me was the only drawback to this series. You might say that this could be a deal breaker for reading any further books featuring this shrink, but the writing and the plot were so terrific that I really want to read what this author has in store for us with the next book.
The book opens 22 years in the past. Two sisters are walking home from school, the older, Rosie, is frustrated with her dawdling little sister, Joanna. Rosie is walking ahead but frequently checks behind her to make sure Joanna is still there but when Rosie enters the sweet shop and looks towards the door for her little sister, Joanna never opens it and is never seen again.
We then jump to the present where we are introduced to Frieda. Frieda is not a rule breaker, she is good at what she does, mentors other burgeoning psychotherapists and is respected in her field. We find out early on that she is very much a loner. She enjoys her solitary walks through the streets of London at night, she lives alone and prefers to keep it that way. Again, not a warm and fuzzy person by any means, but she does grown on you a bit.
When she takes over the care of patient Alan Dekker her strict veneer acquires a few cracks. Alan Decker isn’t able to father a child, but his yearning for a son of his own has put him over the edge and made him unable to cope with life. His delusional daydreams of being the father of a 5-year-old red-headed boy are detailed and descriptive. When 5-year-old Matthew Farraday is abducted, Frieda sees his picture in the paper and is struck by the similarity in appearance to Alan’s imaginary son. Frieda feels she can not keep this information to herself and contacts the policeman in charge of the case.
The investigation and the intertwining of the two child abduction cases 22 years apart is a masterfully told mental chess game that had me enthralled until the end. I will be looking forward to the next in the series!