On the first day of my holiday in France I sat down with a literary treat. The fifth of Nicci French’s gripping Frieda Klein series has just been published and it’s a belter. I didn’t look up again until I’d whizzed through its 375 pages.
Frieda Klein is one of my favourite fictional detectives. To be strictly accurate, she’s a psychotherapist rather than a detective but she has the uncanny knack of accidentally stumbling across murder investigations and untangling them way before anyone else.
The crime at the heart of Friday on My Mind is far too close for comfort, even for Frieda. The bloated corpse of a middle-aged man has been found floating in the River Thames. It’s clear that he died a violent death and when the body is retrieved the police find a hospital wristband on his arm. The name on the band? Dr F. Klein. Except the only Dr F. Klein in London is female and very much alive and kicking.
In previous reviews of this enthralling series I’ve remarked that you don’t have to have read the previous novels to enjoy them as standalone stories. This time round I’ve changed my mind. I liked Friday on My Mind precisely because I’ve got to know the characters over the years. As well as the prickly, eccentric Frieda, who likes taking solitary walks through London in the dead of night, there’s Sasha, her fragile former patient turned close friend, Josef, her fiercely loyal Ukranian builder, Olivia, her flaky ex-sister-in-law, and Malcolm Karlsson, the divorced DCI who secretly holds a candle for her.
Nicci French’s stories are clever, superbly plotted and utterly unpredictable. Five novels into this seven-book series, I have no idea how the saga is going to turn out. That, as far as I’m concerned, is the sign of a writing duo at the top of their game. Writing as Nicci French, husband and wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French have published a Frieda Klein book every year for the last five years so it looks as though I’m going to have to wait till the summer of 2017 for the denouement. I can’t wait.
Friday on My Mind by Nicci French (Michael Joseph, £14.99