Book review: Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French

Tuesday’s Gone
by Nicci French
Penguin, 2012
Frieda Klein #2

In Tuesday’s Gone, the second book in the series about psychotherapist Dr Frieda Klein, the authors have hit their stride. The book starts out in classic crime novel mode, when a decomposing body is found by a social worker visiting one of her clients who lives in a deprived area of London. DI Malcolm Karlsson is assigned to investigate; because Michelle Doyce, the client, is a mental-health patient now “released into the community” who cannot speak coherently about the body in her flat, he calls on Frieda to assess Michelle’s state of mind.

From this small beginning the case grows in complexity as the cursory police investigation fails to make any inroads but Frieda, unwilling to accept the way Michelle has been treated, searches for the identity of the dead man herself. Having succeeded (possibly!), the situation then becomes even more apparently confusing, leading Frieda and Karlsson into a reluctant partnership. There are unspoken dynamics between the two of them, and between each of them and a third member of the triangle, DC Yvette Long, that infect subsequent events. In addition, there is a callow management consultant who is tagging along, presumably to report back to Karlsson’s superiors about potential economies.

Not only is the crime plot excellently paced, with revelations arising from Frieda’s psychological insights about various associates of the dead man, but also the characters themselves come to life, particularly that of Frieda whose relationships with an odd crew of family and friends fleshes out her austere, driven personality. These people were introduced in the previous novel but whereas in that book they seemed to distract from the focus of the narrative, here they are more smoothly part of it. The events take place against a rich backdrop of London, whose history lives in these pages (the authors are extremely informative and interesting on this front). As if this isn’t enough, the plot of the first book in the series, Blue Monday, left to some extent hanging, is here continued, integrated into events in a gripping way.

Nicci French, the writing partnership of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, is well known for a slew of excellent standalone suspense novels. Blue Monday was the authors’ first attempt at a series, an attempt which in that book was only partially successful. Here, however, the story is satisfying, exciting and suspenseful, carried by Frieda’s unique perspective and her restless drive to get to the bottom of everything. This is a superb crime novel which gripped me from start to finish – even though it was not hard to work out the identity of the criminal(s) and the climax was a little hasty. Overwhelmingly, this novel is a great example of how to write a second book in a series in the way that it naturally continues from the previous book within the framework of its own independent plot.

I obtained this book free from the Amazon Vine programme.

My Euro Crime review of Blue Monday, the first book in this series.

About the book at the publisher’s website.

Euro Crime: reviews of some of the earlier stand-alone books by Nicci French, including some by me.

Authors’ website, including a link to their rather good blog.