British,  Crime fiction

Blue Monday by Nicci French (Frieda Klein #1)

Blue Monday by Nicci French is the first in the Frieda Klein series.The series, set in London, star psychotherapist Frieda Klein as her patients’ stories lead her to be involved in on-going investigations. I was offered the third book on the series, but since I had not read the previous installments, I asked for all the books in the series, and I got them! Thanks to Annie Harris at Viking Press for sending me all three books.


From Goodreads:

Monday, the lowest point of the week. A day of dark impulses. A day to snatch a child from the streets …

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when a picture of his face is splashed over the newspapers, psychotherapist Frieda Klein is left troubled: one of her patients has been relating dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew.

Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson doesn’t take Frieda’s concerns seriously until a link emerges with an unsolved child abduction twenty years ago and he summons Frieda to interview the victim’s sister, hoping she can stir hidden memories. Before long, Frieda is at the center of the race to track the kidnapper.

But her race isn’t physical. She must chase down the darkest paths of a psychopath’s mind to find the answers to Matthew Farraday’s whereabouts.

And sometimes the mind is the deadliest place to lose yourself

The series feature two key elements that made me very interested: the fact that Nicci French is actually a team of husband and wife (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French), and that the main investigator in the series is a psychotherapist instead of a police or doctor. I was really happy to explore both and have concluded that both elements helped make a good crime novel. As a reader, you cannot tell that the text is being constructed by two people: it is coherent and fluid.

The plot is the thing I liked the least. Many may question how is it that a plot in a crime novel is the least important thing, but I loved getting to know Frieda, her work and her as a character. The crime is not something revolutionary not even fast-paced. While I was reading Blue Monday I realized that it felt very much like being in therapy: warm, slow, claustrophobic and hard, because introspection is indeed, very tiring. Also, the crime being the kidnapping of two young boys adds to the tension. In fact, the authors capture the slowness that comes when something bad happens and you do not know how things will turn out. Actually, I did not see the ending coming and had to re-read a few paragraphs twice.

Frieda Klein is the main character and she is a psychotherapist. Not a detective, not a doctor, a psychotherapist! I fell immediately in love with her name (a mix of Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein?) and her work. She is devoted to her work, but not a workaholic. She has relatives that make her life both easier and harder, like all of us; she has hobbies, a romantic relationship and habits that do not fit into the “normal” category. But above all, she is a complex female character. As in the Scarpetta series, I think the strength of the Klein series relies on its main character.

I already own the next two books in the series, Tuesday’s Gone and Waiting for Wednesday and I have mentally listed them as series that I read when I am stressed, like I do with Scarpetta’s. However, I think the Klein series are slower, even thicker, as if you were drowsy after too many sleepless nights and you just sat in front of Dr. Klein to start a session rather than being chased by a psychopath in Virginia.



  • madamebibilophile

    I never realised Nicci French was two people! Interesting that the combined name still presents a woman author – apparently publishers often advise female authors to go for genderless names (eg JK Rowling, PD James) because they think female authors can be off-putting for male readers. They could have gone for Sean Gerrard, I hope that the fact they didn’t is a sign the market is changing!

    • Elena

      I know they tell women that, but if you think about it, crime fiction has been “a lady’s writing” for a long time in UK. I am glad things are changing though.

      I didn’t know that “Nicci” is a woman’s name either. There is this German brand with the same name that I ADORE. I am curious though, would it be read like /niki/ or more like /nichi/? 🙂

  • amanda

    I’ve never heard of this series/author team, but I’m really intrigued by the idea of a psychotherapist as the investigator. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any crime fiction, but it seems like a good summer thing. Maybe when I get through all my current stack, I’ll pick something up…

  • Keishon

    I own one title by this duo and hope to read it this year. Enjoyed your review! Also, I haven’t read Scarpetta yet (another series to add to my list this year).

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