Guaranteed to satisfy

Tuesday’s Gone

Nicci French

Penguin, £12.99

Review: Billy O’Callaghan

Tuesday’s Gone opens with a bang: the discovery of a naked man’s murdered and decomposing body in a squalid flat. Tending to the corpse, playing house with him, is a clearly unbalanced woman, a poor wretched soul with a rare mental disorder who has somehow slipped through the cracks of the system. The police are confused as to the man’s identity and the reasons for his being here, and Dr Frieda Klein is called in to assist. Dr Klein, an esteemed psychotherapist, had recently helped on a particularly monstrous case and is still suffering the emotional trauma of those events.

Everything moves at a gallop. Frieda, working often on her own hunches, uncovers precious details, and piece by piece the puzzle falls slowly into place, though with every clue, new questions are raised.

The corpse, it transpires, was a conman living under the assumed identity of Robert Poole who befriended and, in some cases, seduced the wealthy and found ways of squeezing money from them, either through blackmail or manipulation. So there is no shortage of suspects. And amid all this, Frieda struggles with her own demons.

She walks the late-night London streets, tormented by the tatters of her present life as well as her turbulent past. As well as trying to solve this case, she is still bothered by the pieces of what has gone before, a crime that the police consider solved but which won’t lie down, for her and for the media. Then, when least expected, romance blooms.

This is the second novel in a series that began with the bestselling Blue Monday and has the potential to turn into something truly impressive. Already, Frieda Klein is a well-developed character, strong and independent, successful but with a softness about her. She stands out among a bloated cast that as of yet don’t quite make it beyond the two dimensions of stereotype. But in many ways it is the story that captivates here, coupled with a vivid and assured sense of place that, as the series progresses, will hopefully reach the heights of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.

‘Nicci French’ was born of collaboration between the husband-and-wife team of Nicci Gerard and Sean French. Already highly respected journalists, their first joint offering, The Safe House, hit the shelves some 15 years ago to considerable acclaim, and since then they have produced more than a dozen bestsellers. With the Frieda Klein series, starting right now with Tuesday’s Gone, the hits will keep on coming.

* Nicci French will read in Áras Beanntraí at 10.30pm on Friday, Jul 13, as part of the West Cork Literary Festival.


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