Waiting for Wednesday, by Nicci French

Review published on June 27, 2013.Reviewed by Sue Appleby

[product sku=”9780718156985″]Waiting for Wednesday is the third in a series by husband and wife writing duo Sean French and Nicci Gerrard featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein. As a fan of all the Nicci French books, and having read both Blue Monday and Tuesday’s Gone, the previous two Fred Klein novels, this promised to be an exciting read. Take the phone off the hook, snuggle down, prepare to be sucked into Frieda’s always dangerous and often challenging world.

The opening grabs you straight away. Ruth Lennox, do-gooding apparently blameless mother of three is found by her teenage daughter in a pool of her own blood. Who would want to murder this pillar of the community, and why?

We quickly meet up again with DCI Karlsson, the policeman who has been associated with Frieda in the previous two books.  But this time, she doesn’t have a formal professional connection to the police, so here begins a tangle of involvement for Frieda. Karlsson realises he needs her help more than ever, Frieda would prefer to steer clear, but a chance connection between her niece and the son of the murdered woman draws her reluctantly into the case, and she finds herself sucked in almost against her better judgement..

Once it becomes clear that the murdered woman has been leading a secret double life, the stage is set for a tangle of deceit and lies to unravel. Stir into the mix a professional vendetta against Frieda by a rival psychotherapist and a parallel story about a retired journalist trying to unravel clues to a series of cold child abduction cases, and you can guess that I’m by now turning pages furiously, eyes on stalks, to find out why and who dunnit.

But half way into this hefty novel, I have to slow down.  It’s a while since I read the two preceding books, so I can’t recall exactly how Frieda almost lost her life in Tuesday’s Gone nor why DC Yvette Long blames herself for this. I do remember the creepy killer who made his first appearance in Blue Monday, and who still appears to be stalking Frieda, but why he is still at liberty is a bit of a puzzle. And are his actions driven by a hatred of Frieda or a secret desire for her?

The real puzzle with his book is whether Nicci French intended this (and those promised books yet to come) as a stand-alone novel or one of a series which can only be read in sequence?  But if you haven’t yet read the first two, I’d advise you to go back to the beginning with Blue Monday, as there are annoying plot spoilers in Waiting For Wednesday which will otherwise mar your enjoyment. Equally, the back story of Frieda’s love life and the cast of friends-and-family characters would need some explanation, which you don’t get here, if you are starting afresh.

But back to the novel: as well as trying to help Karlsson find clues to unmask the dead woman’s killer, a chance remark by a patient sends Frieda on what seemed an inexplicable wild goose chase which is hard to fathom until she eventually bumps into the ex-journalist on his quest into the child abductions and the mist begins to lift.

Perhaps I’ve read or watched too many crime thrillers, but I thought the relationship she built with the dead woman’s children rather unhealthy and most unlikely, and would have expected a police Family Liaison Officer to have been clucking over them in the aftermath of their mother’s death. But hey, let’s suspend disbelief.

Frieda’s relationship with her long-distance lover Sandy seems without substance and it’s hard to see how this will develop.  We learn a little more about Karlsson, the detective, with insights into his personal life, as he juggles his professional role with the heartbreak of his children moving abroad, and I hope he continues to feature.

Unlike most of us, Frieda hurls herself into the lion’s den of the many twists and turns she encounters, tramping around London in the dark to unmask evil, while seemingly ignoring her own health and well-being. For me, the most confusing part of the book is the trail she pursues, set off by the slimmest of clues, which left me feeling almost as though I had strayed into a different story.

At the close, justice is done, though only partly, more evil is hinted at, and we get a taste of Frieda’s personal background which may explain her (to me) rather chilly and unappealing character.

Waiting For Wednesday is another fine example of complex writing by Nicci French, but remember which days of the week come first, and start your journey there.

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