REVIEW: WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY BY NICCI FRENCH

WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY

Author: Nicci French
Michael Joseph RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan 

Book Cover:  Waiting for WednesdayI’ve found a new crime writer to follow now that I’ve read Waiting For Wednesday by Nicci French. Or should I say Team Nicci French? Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, a married couple whose books have sold more than 8 million books worldwide. Something tells me I’ll be on the lookout for more Nicci French books, considering my introduction to their works was so good. Waiting For Wednesday is the third novel in the highly acclaimed Frieda Klein series. While it worked well as a standalone, I’m now keen to read the first two to fill in a few gaps about Frieda, a psychotherapist struggling to cope with a trauma experienced in previous books. 

Ruth Lennox, beloved mother of three, is found by her daughter in a pool of her own blood. Who would want to murder an ordinary housewife? And why? Is this a burglary gone wrong? Or was it personal? They’re among the questions DCI Karlsson and his team ask when they’re first called in to investigate Ruth’s death. It soon emerges that Ruth was leading a double life, and with the family closing ranks, Karlsson makes Frieda his confidante. No longer working for the police in an official capacity, and still recovering from a near-fatal attack that occurred in book two of the series, Frieda is supposed to be resting, but with a wayward niece turning up and an unplanned bathroom renovation killing her hopes of a relaxing bath she finds herself caught up in the case. It’s a little awkward, given that her niece, Chloe, is friends with the murdered woman’s son and wants Frieda to help him.

While the police sift through clues and Karlsson fends off internal police politics that concern Frieda, a chance remark has Frieda chasing down another murderous path involving several missing girls. Have the police overlooked a possible serial killer? Her investigations into the girls’ disappearances lead her to Jim Fearby, a journalist who is convinced the girls have been murdered. Soon, it’s all Frieda can focus on – for her it’s a way to distract herself from the darkness within, but for others, her obsessive-looking actions are affecting her professional and personal judgments. With relationships and professional credibility on the line, Frieda’s friends are worried that her fragile state of mind is deluding her; even Frieda wonders if the steps she’s taking into a killer’s dark mind will be able to be retraced.

There’s a lot going on this book. While Karlsson and his team work on solving the murder of Ruth Lennox, Frieda is intent on solving murders the police didn’t even know existed. However, Nicci French weaves the side-by-side stories together convincingly, with Frieda as the linchpin. The result is a well-crafted, fast-paced police procedural that kept me on tenterhooks the whole thrilling read. As an introduction to the talents of this writing duo, it’s very good; I just wish I’d started the series at the beginning so I could understand the back story better. For those thinking of reading this, don’t do what I did … read the first two books first so you can get even more from it.

Nicci French skilfully creates a dark, almost gloomy, atmosphere through the murder-mysteries and the insights into Frieda’s damaged and vulnerable mind. However, Waiting For Wednesday stops short of being depressing and bleak courtesy of a few well-placed comedic scenes (Josef and the bathroom saga is the stand out). Interspersed with standard police-speak are snatches of poetic writing that also soften the sombre mood, without completely losing the edginess. Overall, an enjoyable psychological thriller with a complex and intriguing protagonist that I’m looking forward to getting to know better.

Available from good bookstores and Penguin Books Australia. This copy was courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.

Bookish treat: One of the storylines nearly turned my stomach … the best remedy? A cup of ginger tea.