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January 23, 2023

Blue Monday: Book Review

By Wendy Robards

Blue Monday, by Nicci French.

She had exposed dreams and fragments of memories, or images that felt like memories, likenesses. Because that was what she did, that was her currency: the things that happened inside people's heads, the things that made people happy or unhappy or afraid, the connections that they made for themselves between separate events that could lead them through chaos and fear. - from Blue Monday -

Frieda Klein is a reticent woman, a psychotherapist living in London who helps others work through their inner turmoils while she is reluctant to open up in her personal life. She has trouble sleeping, walking the streets of the city at night where she feels most comfortable. When a troubled and anxious man named Alan comes to her for help, Frieda at first approaches the case as any other. But when a young boy named Matthew Farraday goes missing, Frieda recognizes something disturbing: Alan's dreamlike expressions about wanting a child are uncannily similar to Matthew's disappearance, and Matthew looks like he could be Alan's son with his red hair and freckles. Frieda takes her worries to chief inspector Karlsson, a surly man who reluctantly listens to her. As the case unfolds, disturbing questions arise: Who is Alan and is he capable of stealing a child? And is Matthew's disappearance related to another child abduction from 25 years ago?

Blue Monday is the first in a new series featuring Frieda Klein, and it is a suspenseful and twisty psychological thriller. Frieda is a complex character who at first left me a bit cold with her reserved and careful demeanor. But as the novel progressed, I found myself empathizing with her character and wanting to understand her psychological underpinnings. People seem to move in and out of Frieda's life -- an immigrant who literally falls in front of her, a colleague on the verge of professional collapse, a lover who no longer wants to live in London, and her dysfunctional sister and troubled niece. Frieda is the unflinching and constant influence in all these people's lives, and yet she seems almost untouched by them.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this novel is how the connections are revealed between characters. Nothing is really as it first appears. There is a terrific twist about half way through the book which I didn't see coming and which adds another layer to the mystery.

If I have any complaints with the book, it was with the latter half which felt a little slow to me. Some of the plot turns at the end were a bit predictable as well. That said, I did enjoy this novel for its psychological depth and because of Frieda, who despite her short comings (and maybe because of them), is a strong enough character to carry a series.

Readers who love psychological suspense will want to read this book. Atmospheric with strong characterization, Blue Monday is the type of book that will appeal to readers who like their novels dark and mysterious. I will undoubtedly be looking for the second book in the series when it is eventually released.

  • Quality of Writing: Four stars
  • Characters: Four stars
  • Plot: Three and a half stars

Overall Rating: Four stars out of five

FTC Disclosure: A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".

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Article © Wendy Robards. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-03-05
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