Since becoming a mom, I find it difficult to read novels where crimes are committed against children. Blue Monday by Nicci French is a story so compelling and well-written that it made me break out of my mold.
Blue Monday is set in present-day London, a boisterous and modern city. At the heart of the novel is not just one lost child, but two, the first one having been taken over 20 years ago. The book opens with a close-in flashback of the abduction of a girl named Rosie. She was never found and her family eventually settles into the loss of a complete person being stolen from their lives.
Then the book begins and we shift to meet Frieda Klein, a psychotherapist in solo practice. She is no one terribly remarkable, although gifted at her chosen profession, and she treats people who are neither villains or saints, but individuals simply seeking to make sense of their lives and to feel whole.
She begins to treat Alan, a man tortured by dreams of a child he doesn’t have being taken from him. As she and Alan meet and discuss his feelings of despondency, Frieda begins to realize that Alan’s visions — his dreams — are eerily like the abduction of the young boy in the news, of small Matthew Farraday.
Unsettled by her revelation, Frieda approaches the lead detective in the Farraday case and through a tumultuous pairing they begin to work through the connections between Alan, young Matthew, and little Rosie.
Nicci French is the husband/wife writing duo of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The style of the book is a character-driven thriller. Always, the plot carries us along, moving the reader toward the inexorable conclusions that lie in wait. But along the way we are allowed to dally with rich portraits of the many flawed characters who overlay each others' lives.
This technique, of pulling in characters that are tertiary to the central plot, creates a wonderful ambiguity for the path of the novel. So frequently with thrillers and procedural novels, I find myself about half of the way through knowing where we are going.
With Blue Monday, I didn’t know who the criminal was until the authors were ready to let me know. And even after the guilty one is revealed to the reader, in the midst of this web of people, the story remains irresistible.
Blue Monday is the start of a new series that will be centered on the character Frieda Klein. Since Nicci French publishes in the United Kingdom, the next book, Tuesday’s Gone is already out there. It won’t be released by Penguin USA until April 2013, but the reviews from the British media glow over the second book and speak to a serious contender for the thriller serial genre.
If you love thrillers, you need to go ahead and read Blue Monday because you’re going to want to be caught up when Tuesday’s Gone comes to the States in the Spring.
About the Author
Melissa Carle is a Support Specialist with the KC-LSP and thinks life is too short to read a book that doesn't excite you in the first 40 pages. She likes cooking, herb gardening, and, of course, reading and thinks all good books, fiction and non-fiction alike, share one thing in common: they're just a good yarn.