The stunning first book in a new series of psychological thrillers introducing an unforgettable London psychotherapist
Frieda Klein is a solitary, incisive psychotherapist who spends her sleepless nights walking along the ancient rivers that have been forced underground in modern London. She believes that the world is a messy, uncontrollable place, but what we can control is what is inside our heads. This attitude is reflected in her own life, which is an austere one of refuge, personal integrity, and order.
The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when his face is splashed over the newspapers, Frieda cannot ignore the coincidence: one of her patients has been having dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A red-haired child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew. She finds herself in the center of the investigation, serving as the reluctant sidekick of the chief inspector.
Drawing readers into a haunting world in which the terrors of the mind have spilled over into real life, Blue Monday introduces a compelling protagonist and a chilling mystery that will appeal to readers of dark crime fiction and fans of In Treatment and The Killing.
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“Where’s Joanna?” The words hung in the air between them. Rosie saw her mother’s face tighten. “Rosie? Where’s Joanna?”
She heard her own voice saying, “She was there. It’s not my fault. I thought she’d gone home on her own.”
She felt her hand grabbed, and she and her mother were running back down the road the way she had come, along the street where they lived and up past the sweetshop where children hung around the door, past the man with the pockmarked face and the empty smile, and round the corner out of the shade and into the dazzle. Feet slamming and a stitch in her ribs, over the cracks without pausing.
All the while she could hear, above the banging of her heart and the asthmatic wheezing of her breath, her mother calling, “Joanna? Joanna? Where are you, Joanna?”
Deborah Vine pushed a tissue against her mouth as if to stop the words streaming out of her. Outside the back window, the police officer could see a slender, dark-haired girl standing in the small garden quite still, her hands by her side and a school bag still hanging off her shoulder. Deborah Vine looked at him. He was waiting for her answer.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “About four o’clock. On her way home from school, Audley Road Primary. I would have collected her myself except it’s hard to get there on time from work—and anyway she was with Rosie and there are no roads to cross and I thought it was safe. Other mothers leave their children to go home alone and they have to learn, don’t they, learn to look after themselves, and Rosie promised to keep an eye on her.”
She drew a long, unsteady breath.
He made a note in his book. He rechecked Joanna’s age. Five and three months. Where she was last seen. Outside the sweetshop. Deborah couldn’t remember the name. She could take them there.
The officer closed his notebook. “She’s probably at a friend’s house,” he said. “But have you got a photograph? A recent one.”
“She’s little for her age,” said Deborah. She could hardly get the words out. The offi cer had to lean forward to hear her. “A skinny little thing.
She’s a good girl. Shy as anything when you first meet her. She wouldn’t go off with a stranger.”
“A photo,” he said.
She went to look. The officer glanced again at the girl in the garden with her blank white face. He’d have to talk to her, or one of his colleagues perhaps. A woman would be better. But maybe Joanna would turn up before it was necessary, tumble in. She had probably wandered off with a friend and was playing with whatever five- year- old girls play with—dolls and crayons and tea sets and tiaras. He stared at the photograph Deborah Vine passed him, of a girl with dark hair like her sister’s and a thin face. One chipped tooth, a severe fringe, a smile that looked as if she had turned up her mouth when the photographer told her to say “cheese.”
“Have you got hold of your husband?”
Her face twisted.
“Richard—my . . . I mean, their father—doesn’t live with us.” Then as if she couldn’t stop herself, she added: “He left us for someone younger.”
“You should let him know.”
“Does that mean you think this is really serious?” She wanted him to say no, it didn’t really matter, but she knew it was serious. She was damp with fear. He could almost feel it rising off her.
“We’ll keep in touch. A female officer is on her way here.”
“What shall I do? There must be something I can do. I can’t just sit here waiting. Tell me what to do. Anything.”
“You could phone people,” he said. “Anywhere she might have gone.”
She clutched at his sleeve. “Tell me she’ll be all right,” she insisted. “Tell me you’ll get her back.”
The officer looked awkward. He couldn’t say that, and he couldn’t think of what else to say.
“Fast-paced and spooky…it leaves readers with the promise of intriguing tales to come.”
“A neat puzzle with a satisfying resolution and a terrific twist at the end.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“A superb psychological thriller…With its brooding atmosphere, sustained suspense, last-minute plot twist, and memorable cast of characters, this series debut will leave readers eager to discover what color Tuesday will be.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“With its smart plot, crisp prose, and a stunning final twist, this is psychological suspense at its best. Absolutely riveting.”—Booklist, starred review
“This is psychological suspense done right. The authors pace themselves and build the tension slowly while carefully developing each of the players. For fans of Tana French’s and Lisa Gardner’s moody, dark, twisty thrillers.”
“A searing psychological thriller in the rich vein of Kate Atkinson and Laura Lippman, Blue Monday is powerful and gripping—a page-turner with heart and soul. Psychotherapist Frieda Klein is an enormously appealing new series hero.”—Joseph Finder, bestselling author of Buried Secrets
“Unrelenting …unnerving…unforgettable. Psychological dynamite.”
—Alan Bradley, bestselling author of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
“Nicci French creates a haunting and complex psychological puzzle about memory and heredity, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end. This gripping thriller certainly bodes well for the future of the series and I look forward to reading more about unlikely heroine Frieda Klein.”
—Camilla Läckberg, bestselling author of The Ice Princess
“A fabulous, unsettling, and riveting look at motives and memory and relationships. And what drives people to do the unthinkable.”
—Louise Penny, bestselling author of A Trick of the Light
“Nicci French is undeniably at the top of British psychological suspense writing.”
—The Observer (UK)
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