Still haunted by the bizarre events in Blue Monday (2012), London psychotherapist turned police consultant Frieda Klein investigates the murder of an enigmatic con man whose naked, decomposing body is found in the home of a mentally ill young woman.
The woman, Michelle, who speaks in code, collects things. Frieda, who blames herself for the death of a female student in Blue Monday, the first installment in French's excellent series, is determined to help her. She alone understands Michelle. But though her insight is invaluable to her good-guy supervisor, DCI Karlsson, her tendency to play by her own rules puts her at odds with other cops and makes her an easy media target. A fellow psychologist says Frieda is "losing sight of whether she's a therapist or a detective." While determining the identity of the con man and then piecing together the stories of his victims, including a widow with a leaky roof and a young woman who hires him as a personal trainer, the 30-something Frieda must solve problems that are closer to home. Among them: the neglect of her troubled niece by Frieda's brother and his ex-wife. Writing under the Nicci French pseudonym, married couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French specialize in examining the things that tear families apart. Reading Blue Monday first isn't a prerequisite to enjoying this book, but it is strongly recommended. The new novel extends the plot of its predecessor, bringing back important characters—possibly including a major baddie Frieda is convinced is lurking in the shadows. And it's always good with a character as fascinating and slow to reveal herself as Frieda—who is bright, caring and conversant but also moody, detached and happiest when walking by herself in unexplored London—to be with her from the start.
A fiercely intelligent, multilayered thriller, this book casts its narrative net wider than Blue Monday, making welcome demands on its readers.