To Go: 89
11. Blue Monday — Nicci French
I put Blue Monday on my Christmas list after seeing it in Chapters a couple of times, and was really excited when I got it. I hadn’t yet found the perfect time to read it — for a while there was always something else I was more interested in reading when it was time to start a new book — until I put down Anna From Away. I needed a break from books that were cerebral and introspective, and wanted more of a relaxed and easy read. I’ve been starting to find that mysteries are becoming like a literary comfort food: they’re indulgent and palatable, but the elusive plots always offer a bit of a challenge.
When five-year-old Matthew Farraday goes missing from his school in the middle of the day, there’s a national outcry, and a massive police search ensues. But for Frieda Klein, a solitary psychotherapist, the abduction is especially startling: her newest patient, Alan Dekker, has described to her for weeks his hungering for a child of his own. A child who he can describe perfectly. A redhead, freckled child who looks exactly like Matthew. When she reaches out to Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson, the lead man on the case, the prickly cop doesn’t take her concerns seriously until a link emerges with a similar abduction, which took place over 20 years ago. And soon Frieda finds herself embroiled in the case, using her academic and psychotherapeutic knowledge to find the young boy.
Here’s a fun story for you: Nicci French, the author of Blue Monday, is actually a husband-and-wife writing team that combined her first name and his last to create a pseudonym that suited them both. Under the name Nicci French, they’ll continue to write more Frieda Klein books, which I’m looking forward to. The incisive Frieda Klein and her acerbic, somewhat unwilling partner Malcolm Karlsson are the unlikeliest of duos — they butt heads frequently, and neither quite likes the other, but in their rare moments of co-oporation they’re able to come up with leads that would’ve been otherwise impossible.
If you weren’t sure yet, I loved Blue Monday. Frieda Klein is a completely different kind of protagonist for a mystery series, and having her in the driver’s seat allows the reader to see a criminal not just for his actions, but for what’s going on in his head. Instead of focusing on the crime scenes and the court rooms the way Connelly, Rotenberg, and other well-known mystery authors do, seeing through Frieda Klein’s eyes gives the reader a new vantage point of the central crime.
And, as I feel I’m almost obliged to do, I must say that the twist in Blue Monday was stunning — it was like nothing I’ve ever read before, and the final reveal was so perfect my mouth dropped open.
Blue Monday is the start of what could be a fantastic series with a great set of characters, and I’m excited to see more from Nicci French.
Next book: Mrs. Kennedy and Me — Clint Hill
Next feature: Pictures of the Nicholas Hoare bookstore! I’ve had them for a while and forgot to post.