Can psychotherapist Frieda Klein possibly get in any worse with the members of London's Metropolitan Police whose patience with her has already worn thin? Yes, she can—when the evidence marks her as a murderer.
By the time his corpse is fished out of the Thames, neurologist Alexander Holland is scarcely identifiable. But a hospital bracelet he’s wearing labeled “Dr. F. Klein” leads DCI Sarah Hussein and DC Glen Bryant to Frieda, and she makes the dry-eyed identification. Asked why one of her former patients would be wearing her bracelet when he got his throat cut, she reluctantly acknowledges over several interrogations that Sandy Holland was more than her patient; he was a former lover who wouldn’t accept their breakup and kept calling her with the persistence of a stalker. Since Frieda maintains that she’s already being stalked by murderous Dean Reeve (Thursday’s Children, 2016, etc.), who she insists must have killed Sandy, Hussein and Bryant think this sounds like an awful lot of stalkers, and when Sandy’s wallet turns up in her dresser drawer, they prepare to arrest her. Instead of turning herself in, however, Frieda takes it on the lam, going to ground in a burrow arranged by her friend Josef Morozov, a Ukrainian builder with contacts from here to Kiev. At first determined to gather evidence against Reeve, she gets a momentary jolt when the timetable for Sandy’s murder indicates that Reeve can’t have killed him but smoothly switches gears, masquerading as the world’s most improbable nanny in order to snoop into the private lives of Sandy’s other friends, a disconcerting number of whom turn out to be former lovers as well, until she shakes one tree too many and the killer appears in her path.
French’s strikingly mature prose purrs along as smoothly as ever, but the mystery is a mess from beginning to end, and the heroine’s tough/imperiled shtick is beginning to wear thin. For loyalists only.