Monday, 27 May 2013

Book Review: WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY by Nicci French

Waiting for Wednesday (Frieda Klein, #3)

Title: Waiting for Wednesday
Author: Nicci French
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Release Date: June 20, 2013
Read: May 25-27, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Waiting For Wednesday by Nicci French is the thrilling third novel in the highly acclaimed Frieda Klein series. 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? Psychotherapist Frieda Klein finds she has an unusually personal connection with DCI Karlsson's latest case. She is no longer working with him in an official capacity, but when her niece befriends Ruth Lennox's son, Ted, she finds herself in the awkward position of confidante to both Karlsson and Ted. When it emerges that Ruth was leading a secret life, her family closes ranks and Karlsson finds he needs Frieda's help more than ever before. But Frieda is distracted. Having survived an attack on her life, she is struggling to stay in control and when a patient's chance remark rings an alarm bell, she finds herself chasing down a path that seems to lead to a serial killer who has long escaped detection. Or is it merely a symptom of her own increasingly fragile mind? Because, as Frieda knows, every step closer to a killer is one more step into a darkness from which there may be no return .

My thoughts:

Waiting for Wednesday confirms all the reasons why Nicci French has been on my list of favourite authors ever since I picked up Secret Smile ten years ago and made it my mission to read every novel the author team has ever written. I cannot adequately explain why French’s writing so effectively manages to get under my skin. Perhaps a clue lies in the small technicolour details skilfully wrought into the storyline, which give the narrative an almost dreamlike quality, with the same intense emotional echo a vivid dream (or nightmare) can leave in its wake. Like a ghostly whisper in the night awakening your deepest darkest fears, French’s novels manage to penetrate deep into the subconscious and leave an icy chill of dread, a lingering feeling of menace which cannot be rationally explained.

After spending the last two days reading French’s latest work (or wishing I was reading whenever I had to attend to my other areas of daily life), closing the book feels almost like a bereavement – like a ghostly visitor I had hovered in the dark streets of French’s imagination, feeling deeply connected to the protagonists of the story. This is a pleasant surprise, since I admit I was very underwhelmed by the first book in the Frieda Klein series, Blue Monday, missing the usual spine tingling sensation and connection to the main characters I normally get when reading the authors’ other works. I even had serious misgivings in moving Waiting for Wednesday to the top of my to-read pile – and am happy to have been proven totally wrong. Not only have I since rushed out to catch up on the second in the series, Tuesday’s Gone, but I am also now impatiently awaiting the next instalment!

It is in the minutiae introduced into the storyline where French’s true skill lies – it creates an atmosphere of normal daily life, a false sense of security, a connection to the characters whose everyday lives so closely reflect our own mundane existences.

[…] The cat walked up the garden, taking its time and pausing by the door, head lifted as if waiting for something. Then it deftly inserted itself through the cat flap and entered the kitchen, with its tiled floor, its table – big enough for six or more people – and its Welsh dresser, which was really too large for the room and was cluttered with china and odds and ends: tubes of dried-out glue, bills in their envelopes, a cookery book opened at a recipe for monkfish with preserved lemon, a balled pair of socks, a five-pound note, a small hairbrush. Pans hung from a steel rail above the cooker. There was a basket of vegetables near the sink, a dozen more cookery books on a small shelf, a vase of flowers that were beginning to droop on the windowsill, a school textbook open spine-down on the table.[…]

You get the picture. A family home. It could be any house on my street, even my own. When the peace and tranquillity are brutally shattered it has the desired effect, reminding us that evil can invade everyone’s life, shatter our illusion of safety. It creates an ever-present undercurrent of threat which never once loses its grip, not even long after the last page has been turned.

Viewed purely from a logical perspective, the book is not without flaws. The writing felt choppy at times, switching abruptly between scenes and characters. Frieda herself often acts totally irrationally, not befitting her professional persona. But somehow it all works and only added to the intrigue for me. The further I read, the more I warmed to and related to Klein, despite of (or perhaps because of) her flaws. As with most of French’s previous female protagonists, Frieda is a very complex person with a strong sense of individuality. As more about Frieda’s thoughts and her past are revealed, she is not only becoming more rounded, but also more intriguing – a protagonist worthy of starring in many more novels in the future. The rich cast of characters in Waiting for Wednesday all somehow balance each other: from the introverted and mysterious Frieda to the open and helpful Josef, Frieda’s troubled teenage niece Chloe and DC Karlsson, who struggles with the impending separation from his children – to such an extent that I felt devastated by one particular twist in the story – but no spoilers here! I liked how the authors manage to introduce an element of romance without taking the focus away from the mystery – instead lending the relationship an air of mystery all of its own.

Last but not least, the skill of introducing two totally unrelated storylines and yet managing to bring them both together in a spine tingling finale deserves a lot of credit. I want more!

Having been a fan of French’s writing for years I will continue to recommend their work – Waiting for Wednesday is no exception. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a spine-tingling psychological thriller with a complex female protagonist.

If you want to find out more about the author-team who are Nicci French and their previous works, why not visit their website.

A big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


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