Why? Because when it comes to crime fiction, Frieda stands out from the crowd. She’s a complex loner who has a tricky relationship with her family, a tricky relationship with her lover, a tricky relationship with the police and well, a tricky relationship with virtually everyone.
She also has a habit of taking solitary walks through London at the dead of night and is only just getting to grips with a mobile phone (she didn’t have one at all when the series began).
Thursday’s Children is the fourth Frieda Klein story – as the husband and wife writing duo told readers at this year’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival, the reason they decided to write the series in the first place was because “someone wrote a piece saying that the good thing about us was that we had never written a series.”
This time round we learn far more about Frieda’s family than before – largely because she returns to the sleepy Suffolk seaside town where she grew up to investigate a brutal crime.
Long submerged memories surface and she also visits her mother for the first time in 23 years. Their fractured relationship is beautifully written – by turns poignant, painful and baffling. Nicci French is brilliant at evoking place and the description of Frieda returning to the house where she grew up and left abruptly at the age of 16 are so vivid that you can see it in your mind’s eye.
As always with Nicci French novels Thursday’s Children is a real page-turner. I didn’t like it quite as much as the first three Frieda Klein novels but that’s because a lot of the story focuses on Frieda’s old Suffolk pals, whom she hasn’t clapped eyes on in two decades and who aren’t quite as distinctive or convincing as her London friends and relations.
I slightly lost track of which one was Chas and which one was Lewis and which two were old boyfriends of Frieda’s and couldn’t quite believe that Frieda is the type to set foot inside a school reunion. But these are minor quibbles and I still think the Frieda Klein novels are a tour de force. And as always with Nicci French, I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Thursday’s Children by Nicci French (Michael Joseph, £14.99)