Book review: Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French

This book is in bookstores now.

I have one isssue with Nikki French*’s Tuesday’s Gone – it is the second of a planned FRIEDA KLEIN series, and I have not yet read the first!
Of course I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of this mystery ‘slash’ thriller. Every thriller needs a ‘good’ villain – and Nikki French has created many within the pages of this gripping novel.

Psychotherapist Frieda becomes involved in assisting – sometimes at her own insistence – a police investigation involving a harmles but seemingly dangerous woman with a predilection for regarding inanimate belongings she has collected (including a corpse) as friends, which includes serving the corpse tea and sticky buns. Frieda, in talking to the deranged Michelle, realises she has nothing to do with the corpse’s demise, but police working under constraints from “upstairs” close the case, with Michelle regarded as guilty but insane and unchargable.

A police ‘management consultant’ raises the spectre of budget cuts. Young police officers resent her presence as a consultant on the team. Frieda is judged by her professional psychiatric seniors for meddling in a diagnosis and in police work. She becomes an ongoing feature for a newspaper, drawing unwelcome attention both to herself and to the police handling of the case.

The investigation is a chase to find the corpse’s identity, the motive for his killling and mutilation and the people who he interacted with before his death. During the hunt for leads, an old case of Frieda’s raises its head. The investigation is permitted to continue, with limits on Frieda’s access to information.

We encounter a strange young girl living alone, deserted, on a barge, fearfully following the instructions of the crazed captor who has left her alone. Somewhere out there is a superbly clever and evil conman. The conman’s success is the result of grooming his victims, by sharing their interests, or assisting with work. More people – and their money – go missing and turn up dead. The link is the mouldering corpse Michelle was looking after, whose identity is revealed as fraudulent. Just when they have a name, it is revealed to belong to someone else, also missing assumed dead.

Frieda realises her evidence links old crimes and this new gruesome crime. Now she too feels the pressure of nightmares and the burden of the case. Her friends see her becoming too involved, but accept her resolve to continue on behalf of Michelle and other victims.

Frieda’s knowledge of the human psyche helps her ‘spot’ clues missed by police crime scene investigators obsessed with courtrooom usable sampling, photography and collected samples. Frieda sees patterns in the lives of the victims, and therefore notices where a pattern has been disrupted. By seeking reasons for these changes, she learns more useful information than fingerprints or blood stains alone.

Thus she contributes to the solving of the case – and the indictment of the villains – which, by the way, are ‘good’ villains: – i.e. as Nikki French has defined them they are utterly believable, not unreasonably able to blend into general society, and therefore really spooky!

*Pseudonym of partnership Nikki GERRARD and Sean FRENCH.

Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street

Tuesday’s Gone
 by Nicci French
Published by Penguin, Michael Joseph imprint
ISBN: 9780718156961