THE RED ROOM by Nicci French
Kirkus Star


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Another strong, vulnerable, beset young heroine; another brilliant thriller from French (Beneath the Skin, 2000, etc.), who now has to be considered a major player.

It’s hard not to like pretty, well-meaning psychologist Dr. Kit Quinn, though some are certainly willing to give it a try. Detective Chief Inspector Oban, for instance, anoints her “the most bloody-minded woman” he’s ever had to work with. That being said, however, he admires the quirky/dazzling quality of her insights. Which is why he asks for her help in the matter of Michael Dall, the no-account he’d like to nail for a bothersome unsolved murder. Hoping to augment flimsy circumstantial evidence, Oban wants Kit to profile Dall as dangerously unbalanced, a potential menace to society. He is that, Kit believes, but not the perp for this particular crime, inconvenient as that may be. Oban huffs and puffs but finally backs off, huffs and puffs some more when Kit’s digging unearths additional inconvenient matter. Three murders previously regarded as separate and distinct might well be linked. If they are, then the police have a serial killer on their hands, with all the inevitable and unwelcome attention that implies. Increasingly captivated by Kit (in an avuncular sort of way), Oban gives her free rein, as impressed by her talent as he is dismayed by her unorthodoxy. Another reluctant admirer is distant, misanthropic Will Pavic, who runs a kind of halfway house for runaways and hates the world for its crimes against them. Despite himself, he’s drawn to Kit. And she’s drawn to Will, though there are times when she can’t quite rule him out as the case-in-point serial killer.

Not as unnerving as French’s flawless Killing Me Softly (to be released as a movie in October) but stylish and engrossing nonetheless.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2001
ISBN: 0-89296-730-7
Page count: 384pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2001


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