Tuesday’s Gone, by Nicci French
Frieda Klein returns in Tuesday’s Gone, the second of Nicci French’s thriller series set in London (following Blue Monday). A body is discovered by a care worker on a routine check-up of a recently released psychiatric patient. Found sitting naked in her home, it seems likely that the patient is the murderer but her condition renders her nonsensical, and the identity of the body is a mystery. Frieda is brought in by the police as a consulting psychotherapist on the case, following her exemplary work on the Alan Dekker case 14 months before. It is a slow process with many false turns, but she draws the case together for what becomes a frantic and exciting conclusion.
The shadows of London hangs heavy over the story, with the investigation taking in the down-and-outs who have been neglected by society, alongside the more well-off. Frieda’s relationship with the city intertwines with her thinking on the case, and she walks the streets to clear her mind, to delve deeper into its mysteries. French creates a dark and oppressive London, where the ghosts of its history are remembered by Frieda (who occasionally acts the tour guide, detailing the city’s mythology and its forgotten rivers as she walks with colleagues), along with her lost friends and lovers. Death is never far from her mind.
Tuesday’s Gone is not quite as engaging as the first book in the series; there is a little too much focus on police procedure, and too much traveling back and forth to keep the pace up. Yet it is still intriguing and well-written, drawing on narrative strands from Blue Monday to further characterise Frieda (whose history is explained in more detail) and those around her. Josef provides light relief again, and Reuben is the nagging conscience. Yet the most interesting character is Klein herself, who is put under increasing pressure by the press (earning the nickname ‘Dodgy Doc’), and by herself; she carries with her a bundle of neuroses and contradictions that weigh heavily on her actions. At times she has a seemingly super-human ability to read people, which can be difficult to believe, but Tuesday’s Gone shows Freida’s more human side; fragile and fallible under pressure, at times she is overwhelmed and lost in the current of the case.
The book can be read as a stand-alone, but it makes more sense to read Blue Monday first as the author builds upon events from this story. For returning fans, Tuesday’s Gone will possibly not strike the same chords as the first book, but it is still a strong tale and lays further groundwork for what continues to be an interesting series.