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Friday on My Mind: A Frieda Klein Mystery


Friday on My Mind: A Frieda Klein Mystery

The Frieda Klein Mystery series by the husband-and-wife team collectively known as Nicci French stays with me. I’ve written here and elsewhere about the occasional difficulty that we readers of a certain age have in keeping track of the characters and situations in ongoing series that are added to on an annual (or more) basis. Happily I don’t experience that with this series. Part of it is the uniqueness of the character. Frieda Klein is a troubled, damaged-but-not-broken psychotherapist in private practice who in the past has worked with the London police. However, in FRIDAY ON MY MIND, the fifth and latest (in the United States) installment, Frieda finds herself on the run not only from the police, but also from her acquaintances.

"French mixes suspense occasioned by near-misses with law enforcement with a mini-triptych of London and its inhabitants, and the friends, old and new, who assist Frieda."

Please note that this series builds incrementally with each installment, and if this is your first visit into Frieda Klein’s world, your enjoyment of FRIDAY ON MY MIND will be increased exponentially by first reading the four volumes that document what has gone before. Trust me, it will be worth your investment of time and money, for this is a worthwhile series on all levels. That said, French offers a series of startling twists here from beginning to end. The book begins with the discovery of a decomposed body floating in the River Thames. Visual identification is all but impossible save for a hospital identification bracelet bearing the name “Dr. F. Klein.” Frieda Klein, as it develops, is very much alive; she is able to identify the body as that of a former lover. His death was not the result of an inadvertent slip off of the riverbank, either, given that his throat has been slit.

Suspicion falls on Dr. Klein herself, due in great part to a rush to judgment precipitated by ill will occasioned by her involvement in prior cases where she demonstrated 1) a knack for crime solving that exceeded that of law enforcement, and 2) the mayhem that seems to both precede her and follow in her wake. Frieda is convinced that the killer is Dean Reeve, a psychopath who has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with her for years, even as the police are convinced that Reeve is long dead. On the cusp of presenting herself for arrest, Frieda decides to take it on the lam, if you will, and a great deal of the book is devoted to her finding ways to hide out in plain sight on the streets of London while attempting to prove her innocence.

French mixes suspense occasioned by near-misses with law enforcement with a mini-triptych of London and its inhabitants, and the friends, old and new, who assist Frieda. Chief among those is the ever-loyal Josef, who toes the line between the legal and criminal with great aplomb. These elements combine to make FRIDAY ON MY MIND a whodunit and a “how to get out of it,” with the answers intertwined to a great degree as the book moves headlong to a climax with two startling revelations.

The conclusion sets up a plotline for future volumes, in part because of the introduction of a new character who treads softly and intermittently through the beginning of the book while functioning as somewhat of a deus ex machina figure at the end. This character put me in the mind of Martin Schenk from the incomparable television series “Luther,” at least in his introduction here. Given that the next installment in the Frieda Klein series has already been published in Great Britain, the temptation to skip ahead is almost irresistible. While I exercise self-restraint, catch up if you need to and enjoy this latest addition to this must-read series.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 7, 2016

Friday on My Mind: A Frieda Klein Mystery
by Nicci French