All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Friday On My Mind by Nicci French

on July 3, 2015

Friday On My MindFriday On My Mind (Frieda Klein #5)
Nicci French
Penguin Books AUS
2015, 375p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

A bloated man is found in the River Thames, an identifying hospital bracelet around his wrist that states Dr F. Klein. But the victim isn’t Dr Klein, because Frieda is very much alive…and not a man. Nor is he one of her patients but the man is definitely known to her and she can identify him.

And then evidence linking her to the murder is found in her apartment and she becomes the number 1 suspect. Due to her past involvement with the police, as a consultant that has inevitably become involved in cases, often in the very worst way, she knows that it’s going to be almost an impossible job to convince the police of her innocence. The powers that be have already made up their mind and seem to have made it known they consider this case cut and dried. There’s no way that they’ll consider any other suspect and Frieda’s friend DCI Karlsson is being kept mostly out of the loop and away from the investigation.

Frieda makes the choice to go on the run, knowing she’ll never be able to solve this murder if she’s sitting in a jail cell. She needs to piece together the truth herself. She believes that she knows who killed the man found in the river but proving it is going to be hard when everyone else believes that man is dead. And then of course there’s the possibility that Frieda has it wrong…

Friday On My Mind is the fifth installment in this crime series featuring psychoanalyst Dr Frieda Klein. Frieda is a really interesting character as a protagonist, mostly because she’s so seriously cold about everything. She very rarely shows emotion of any description, be it joy, anger, sadness, grief, affection. She’s very calm, very measured and understated in her interactions with people and in her internal thoughts. At times this makes her a difficult character to connect with but it does also make her interesting. She rarely, if ever, allows emotion to get in the way of her work and putting pieces together in the crimes she inevitably becomes involved in both working as a consultant for the police and just in general on her own. Frieda has basically become a crime magnet in recent times but like pretty much everything else, it doesn’t seem to bother her.

This book steps it up a gear with the murder of someone very close to Frieda and it’s clear from the beginning that Frieda is also being framed for it. However the Commissioner has made up his mind about Frieda and her inconveniently cropping up in and being connected to many investigations and he makes it clear that this is who the investigating officer, DCI Sara Hussein and her partner should focus on. Frieda knows they probably have enough to arrest her and have her sitting in a jail cell where she’ll never be able to find the real killer. And so, with the help of a few of her staunch allies, she goes on the run.

Frieda proves surprisingly (or perhaps not so, given how phenomenally capable she is at everything) resourceful whilst on the run and with the help of Josef, her Ukrainian builder who has become a very close friend and who appears to have connections, she is able to find places to stay (of dubious and varying safety) and move about the city as needed. To be honest, I was never really sure how what Frieda was doing was going to help her prove that she didn’t murder anyone, given she had no chance of catching the person she did originally think was responsible. However she did manage to discover that it couldn’t possibly be that person, so that did mean she had to look elsewhere. It did seem however that no matter how capable Frieda is, she needs her friends – Josef is invaluable to her as well as DCI Karlsson. Karlsson is limited in what he can do of course because he risks his job but he believes in Frieda and her innocence and he does what he can in his own quiet, discreet and understated way. In fact if it weren’t for Karlsson and his devotion to Frieda, there probably wouldn’t be a forthcoming book with Saturday in the title.

Although each book is also a separate story, there’s an overarching plot that began in the first one and has carried through each volume, sometimes so far in the background you almost forget about it. This book focuses on it much more and brings it back to the forefront, suggesting that things will soon be very much coming to a head between Frieda and the man everyone else believes is dead. Although I do find Frieda baffling at times, I have to admit her steadiness and sheer unflappability is somewhat soothing in a crime novel. There are no screaming hysterics, no sobbing in corners and although Frieda does occasionally do things that I would term as TSTL in other stories, she does them with such a calm determination that somehow they seem completely logical and rational methods of behaviour. I really enjoy her interactions with those she is ‘close’ to (and I use that term loosely because at times, there’s nothing to separate her actions/mannerisms from those she’s close to with those she isn’t, it’s more how you read between the lines) especially her evolving relationship with DCI Karlsson. The way in which that has grown throughout all of the books has been probably my favourite part of this series.

I really enjoyed this – I think it might be the strongest of the series and I’m really looking forward to the Saturday installment and especially seeing what role Walter Levin is going to play in the future.

8/10

Book #114 of 2015

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One response to “Review: Friday On My Mind by Nicci French

  1. Deborah says:

    I liked it more than the others in the series too. I really can’t engage with Frieda, but this is the closest I’ve come!!!

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