French closes the saga of consulting psychologist Frieda Klein with the story of a criminology student who, casting around for a topic for her dissertation, chooses “In the Footsteps of Dr. Klein,” a choice that turns her life into a nightmare.
Lola Hayes has no idea what to write about for her final paper at the University of London’s Guildhall College. Her lazy adviser, hearing her say, “I’d much rather write about people than ideas or science,” directs her: “You want a person?...Here’s a person. Have you ever heard of Frieda Klein?” Lola hasn’t, but she reads up on Frieda, talks to her archenemy, Guildhall profiler professor Hal Bradshaw, and eventually tracks her down. That’s no mean feat in itself, since Frieda, pursued once more by monumentally patient serial killer Dean Reeve, has gone into hiding, and even her closest friends don’t know or won’t say where. Apart from his earlier track record, there’s good reason for Frieda to fear Reeve, who’s started to kill more or less random people in order to flush her out of hiding so she can protect the next innocent. One victim is found after his car crashes through a shop window; another’s bicycle is struck by a hit-and-run driver; a third turns up dead on Hampstead Heath. DC Dan Quarry and his new boss, DCI Bill Dugdale, have yet to realize that Dean Reeve is behind the latest round of mayhem. After Frieda agrees to take in Lola, she agrees to meet Reeve alone in a place he’s picked, and Lola, frantic to prevent what she sees as Frieda’s suicidal acquiescence, acts to protect her. Ungrateful Frieda promises her: “One day you’ll want to get in a time machine, come back and stop yourself doing what you did today.” If anything, that turns out to be an understatement.
Though its climax couldn’t possibly live up to the harrowing story it ends, French’s legion of fans will rejoice that she’s capped her memorable week of thrillers (Sunday Silence, 2017, etc.) with this nerve-shredding eighth day.