Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Sunday Morning Coming Down – Nicci French

Crime Fiction
5*s

Well I’ve been an avid follower of this series since Blue Monday which was published back in 2012 and thought that this might be the last in the series but I’m pleased to report that we have on more book to go – Day of the Dead will be published in July 2018.

Frieda Klein is in a pensive mood from the off in this novel, probably not helped by the fact that a body has been found under the floorboards in her cottage. Not some random body but an ex-policeman who Frieda had employed. Despite the extreme provocation Frieda, as usual, doesn’t behave the way she is expected to. She is calm under the provocation of yet another message being sent to her by the man she believes has stalked her over the years Dean Reeve. As the police crowd in her friend DCI Karlsson currently on leave due to a broken leg turns up at the behest of the woman in charge of the investigation, Petra Burge.

Out of all the novels in this series this has the fastest pace, unsurprisingly given the opening, and we see far less of Frieda carrying out her work as a psychotherapist as she is consumed by trying to keep her friends safe from an unseen source. There is various moving around of the cast of friends that Frieda has amassed over the series; for someone who is supposedly such a difficult woman, she commands a hell of a lot of loyalty. As people move from one house to another shoring up their defences as the unlucky ones get all manner of payback for being her friend or associate, we see this wonderful bunch (well minus Olivia who needs a reality check, and fast) in action. I know they are fictional but the characters are friends and even outside the mayhem that surrounds Frieda they have their own issues which are far from small.

The plotting is amazing with a number of strands to follow although the police have little choice but to follow Frieda’s guidance, they also lay down some conditions of their own so Frieda has to co-operate with the media. Not the outcome a lady who values her privacy so highly would want but it illustrates perfectly that the loyalty shown to her by her friends is justified. I really don’t know how this duo turn out such complicated, yet immensely readable books. In some of the earlier books I tried to guess whether Nicci or Sean had penned various scenes, this book gave me no time to wonder on such things as I was so wrapped up in the action, but however they do it, the finished item is superb. Not for these authors warping the characters, the only one who has significantly changed along the way is Chloe and that is completely expected since she has grown into a young woman and fortunately doesn’t have to deal with the unhinged Olivia on a daily basis any longer – did I mention, I don’t rate Olivia as a character although it’s good to have someone like this in the mix, after all we all have someone who has to be tolerated as they can’t possibly be loved!

To say I’m excited about the release of book eight, Day of the Dead, the finale is a complete understatement but I really don’t know how the authors are going to top this one in terms of excitement or even if I’m going to survive saying goodbye to my fictional friends.

I’d like to say thank you to Penguin UK who allowed me to read a review copy of Sunday Morning Coming Down and thank you to Nicci French for keeping me thoroughly entertained. This unbiased review is my thanks to them all.

First Published UK: 13 July 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Nicci French featuring Frieda Klein

Blue Monday
Tuesday’s Gone
Waiting For Wednesday
Thursday’s Child
Friday On My Mind
Saturday Requiem 

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Saturday Requiem – Nicci French #20booksofsummer

Crime Fiction
5*s

In 2011 the talented duo Sean French and Nicci Gerrard published the first book in a new series about a psychotherapist called Frieda Klein under their pen name Nicci French with each of the titles featuring a day of the week. Originally I assumed that there would be a total of seven books but I’ve heard a rumour that there may in fact be eight in total. Saturday Requiem was the sixth in the series and published in 2016 but due to a NetGalley fail on my part, I missed reading a copy around publication time and later treated myself to the paperback copy in readiness for the seventh book which will be published later this month – Sunday Morning Coming Down.

Frieda Klein has vowed not to work with the police following some difficult moments which are covered in previous books, but… well of course there would be no book if she wasn’t in some way involved… she is drawn into the historic murder of Hannah Docherty’s family. Hannah had been tried and convicted of murder in her teens and has spent the last thirteen years in prison. Frieda agrees to meet her and is shocked to see that she is a shell of a person, almost mute and clearly injured. Because Frieda cares she is concerned that the treatment Hannah has received has caused her mental difficulties and decides to dig back to find out what sort of girl Hannah was before she apparently killed her mother, step-father and younger brother, Rory.

One of the reasons I get hooked on series is the relationships the key protagonists has with those around them and Nicci French has provided the readers with a real bunch of characters. Sadly DCI Malcolm Karlsson didn’t feature quite so much in this book having broken a fair few bones in his most recent crime fighting effort but the Polish builder Josef, Frieda’s biggest fan and protector, is there ready to lend a hand whenever the occasion demands it, and these occasions happen often! Jack and Chloe are also in the thick of things along with Karlsson’s loan of his deputy Valerie Long to investigate the historic murders, one that obviously needs more scrutiny following a recent discovery. Frieda is a complicated character but the validation of those around her ensures that I have warmed to her over the series. Dean Reeve, Frieda’s long-standing stalker is still elusively present and the set-up is still ongoing for what I hope will be an explosive showdown.

Apart from the characters of course what all readers need in crime fiction is a good puzzle with plenty of clues that don’t quite fit together until they are put into the right order. Nicci French gives us this in spades with each interview slowly moving the pieces around, and increasing the tension, until there is only one answer that makes sense. I don’t usually mention the endings to books, but this one blew me away!!

What more can I say, book six is up there with the best in the series, it sent me through the whole range of emotion with the plot, characterisation and pacing absolutely spot-on.

Saturday Requiem was my third read of my 20 Books of Summer  Challenge 2017

First Published UK: 30 June 2016
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Nicci French featuring Frieda Klein

Blue Monday
Tuesday’s Gone
Waiting For Wednesday
Thursday’s Child
Friday On My Mind

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Friday On My Mind – Nicci French

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Well this series just keeps on getting better with this, the latest in the Frieda Klein series taking a very dark turn when Frieda being the suspect in a murder.

I have to admit I gave an audible gasp only minutes into starting this book, there is no time for a re-cap, we are straight into the action! With a dead body found in the River Thames who is closely connected Frieda, and wearing a hospital bracelet bearing her name, she instantly suspects her shadowy stalker Dean Reeve. Unsurprisingly the police don’t want to listen to Frieda’s theories. So what does Frieda do? Let the evidence play out and submit to questioning? No, of course not, she decides to investigate herself and to do that she needs to go on the run.

I love these books, our chief protagonist is an intelligent woman, a psychotherapist who works for a practice but has also worked with the police. She knows how people work and how the police investigate. Added to this we have a woman who isn’t scared to stand up for what she believes but unnervingly this just seems to get her into some (really) bad situations.

“Wherever Frieda Klein goes, a trail of chaos follows.”

Despite that she does come across as a believable character, particularly because as the series has progressed her background has become more exposed. If the chief protagonist being exceptional wasn’t enough, the supporting cast are varied and delightful. I am particularly fond of Josef, the builder and DCI Karlsson who is the only member of the police who believes in Frieda – even the Police Commissioner has decided that the number of crimes she’s been linked to, must mean that she is guilty. In many ways it is good to see how Frieda is viewed by those in charge of the investigation, DCI Hussein and DC Glenn Bryant who aren’t in awe of her in the way her circle of friends are. Other old favourite characters who crop up in this episode include her ex sister-in-law, Olivia and her niece Chloe although of course we do have some new additions to the character list. This really keep the range of characters feeling fresh yet retaining that familiar feeling which is what makes reading a series so appealing.

The game of cat and mouse is intriguing and as much as Frieda wants to protect her nearest and dearest, they want to help her. Frieda’s method of lying low relies on a fairly poor disguise and she manages to infiltrate the murdered man’s friends and family to try and gather her information. This ruse works surprisingly well and she gains a job as a nanny to one couple. In the hands of less accomplished authors this could easily have descended into farce, but with the bar of tension, raised high from the start – this was a book to read, and go with the flow and remember to breathe occasionally.

The clues needed to solve the mystery were there, but boy were they well disguised in amongst the red-herrings along the way. This isn’t a book to savour, it is designed to be read in great greedy gulps and swallowed down.
To get the most out of this book, you really do need to have read the previous books in the series, there are too many bits that you’ll miss out on without them.

I’d like to thank Penguin UK who gave me a copy of Friday on my Mind in return for my honest opinion. This book was published on 2 July 2015 – I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s episode now!

Previous Books by Nicci French featuring Frieda Klein

Blue Monday
Tuesday’s Gone
Waiting For Wednesday
Thursday’s Child

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Thursday’s Child – Nicci French

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

This fourth instalment of the series that features Frieda Klein a psychotherapist who has been integral in helping the police in the previous episodes. This book is different with the crime link being introduced by an old classmate of Frieda’s when Maddie asks her to meet with her anorexic daughter, Becky. What Becky tells Frieda in her consulting rooms has the therapist confronting her own past to help those in the present.

I am a big fan of books that successfully link past actions to the present day and the Nicci French duo execute this storyline with aplomb. Frieda returns to the place where she grew up, visits her mother who she hasn’t spoken to for many years and revisits a wrong inflicted upon her when she was a mere schoolgirl. A crime that her mother didn’t believe and in an exact parallel once Becky is persuaded to disclose the truth to her mother, she isn’t believed either.

The authors also paint a picture of small town life perfectly with many of Frieda’s classmates still living in Braxton, the very town she disappeared from keeping no links with anyone, the trouble is with Frieda’s high profile in helping the police, they know far more about how the intervening years have treated her, than she does them. I loved the way old teenage friendships awkwardly jarred with the present twenty-three years on. The old allegiances still in place in some ways but for others time had broken the bonds as those teenage dreams had foundered in the harsh reality of life. When Frieda turns up interrogating them on where they were on the night when she was sixteen, and her house was broken into, she receives mixed reactions, after all they were all at the biggest event to hit Braxton, the band Thursday’s Children held a concert. But Frieda didn’t go, having rowed with her boyfriend she was the only teenager alone that night, or was she?

One of the reasons I love these books so much is the sheer variety of secondary characters and all the old favourites appear in this book too; Josef the builder with the kindest heart on the planet, Chloe Frieda’s niece who is edging slowly towards adulthood although still incredibly reliant on her aunt, Sasha a former patient, DCI Karlsson who has requested her help so often in the past and Reuben her mentor. Although these old favourites feature, their own stories complement rather than take over the main plot so that the reader can focus on the important elements to the story without becoming too distracted.

Due to the exploration of her own past, out of all the books in this series, this one comes closest to explaining why Frieda has such a spiky character, always keen to do the right thing, she has clearly buried a lot of pain from a young age but courageously battled on to help others. In main, apart from the crime this is due to her far more hateful mother, a woman who was a doctor but is now an embittered dying woman. Juliet Klein uttered words that had the power to chill me, her views outrageous, but sadly not as uncommon as we would like to believe although perhaps the world isn’t peopled by quite so many delinquent mothers as are scattered throughout this book!

I think this may be my favourite of the books in this series so far, it isn’t fast paced and full of action but a more thoughtful, and I would say truthful look at this particular crime, but not one I would recommend without reading the other’s first. Although the story itself would stand alone and it can’t be faulted on the number of suspects for this reader to wrongly convict, the way the secondary characters are linked to Frieda, particularly the most shadowy one of all, are threaded throughout the series a lot of the background needed to understand them would be lost.

Previous Books by Nicci French featuring Frieda Klein

Blue Monday
Tuesday’s Gone
Waiting For Wednesday

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Waiting for Wednesday: A Frieda Klein Novel (Frieda Klein 3) – Nicci French

Phsychological Thriller 5*'s
Phsychological Thriller
5*’s
There is something very satisfying about settling down to read a book by Nikki French, the husband and wife, who write this series featuring Freida Klein. I really enjoyed Blue Monday: A Frieda Klein Novel (Frieda Klein 1) and Tuesday’s Gone (Frieda Klein 2) although like many other fans I began reading with the earlier books starting with the Memory Game written by this talented partnership of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French

Frieda Klein is a psychoanalyst who was employed to assist the police working closely with DCI Karlsson but her impulsive nature meant that she was dismissed in the second episode Tuesday’s Gone and is now recovering from a horrific attack both physically and mentally.

In Waiting for Wednesday there are a number of stories to keep the reader entertained; who murdered a lovely mother Ruth Lennox, journalist Jim Fearby who provided enough evidence to a man encarcerated in prison to have him released and Frieda following her instincts to find a missing girl and if this wasn’t enough there is evidence that the serial killer Dean Reeve is still stalking Frieda. Individually these are great plots well written and not too much suspension of belief required by the reader.

This series has a complex and dysfunctional range of characters to entertain and keep this reader interested. To get the most out of this book I would suggest reading the series in order. Now all I have to do is wait another year with anticipation for Thursday’s story.

Books by Nicci French

• Waiting for Wednesday (2013
• Tuesday’s Gone (2013)
• Blue Monday (2011)
• Complicit (2009), published in the United States as The Other Side of the Door (2010)
• What To Do When Someone Dies (2008)
• Speaking Ill of the Dead (2008), a short story
• Until It’s Over (2007)
• Losing You (2006)
• Catch Me When I Fall (2005)
• Secret Smile (2003)
• Land of the Living (2003)
• The People Who Went Away (2001), a short story
• The Red Room (2001)
• Beneath the Skin (2000)
• Killing Me Softly (1999)
• The Safe House (1998)
• The Memory Game (1997)