London psychoanalyst Frieda Klein returns, reprising her role as informal consultant to the Metropolitan police force. In prior novels by French, Frieda has been shot, her niece Chloe, who provides a sounding board in this novel, has been kidnapped. Frieda’s pal, Yvette, a cop, dated a criminal under surveillance in a prior book and accompanies Frieda in this one. I know it’s hard to avoid flashbacks to prior books when writing a series, but so many allusions in passing slow down this story.
The police want Frieda to look into a 13-year-old case, a famous murder—Hannah Dockery was convicted of the slaughter of her mother, brother, and step-father. Her mother’s face was so battered she was identified by her locket. Hannah’s alibi was so thin, it was an open and shut case. Apparently.
Frieda visits Hannah in a hospital for the criminally insane and finds that Hannah has been enduring solitary confinement and abuse by the other inmates. She can barely converse with Frieda, is now covered in tattoos apparently done by another patient. Frieda almost immediately decides Hannah may be innocent despite the overwhelming evidence against her.
As Frieda questions the witnesses and people who knew Hannah, there appears to be a stalker from one of the prior books menacing Frieda. Things in her home are mysteriously rearranged and an air of menace lingers. If you hadn’t read that previous book the addition of this subplot is confusing since it has no relevance to the Hannah mystery and is never resolved—leaving open for another book I suppose.
At first everyone thinks Frieda is wasting her time and Frieda seems to have developed nothing interesting at about 98% of the book and then in the last few pages Freida spots something amiss in the crime scene photos and we have a “come to Jesus moment” by one of the main players. Voila the crime is solved. While the identity of the killer is a surprise, the motivation is never developed, there is no foreshadowing, and I thought the solution too easy.
French certainly can write and has sold a lot of books, but I cannot recommend this one. Hannah isn’t sympathetic, despite another subplot—a fellow patient is apparently planning to kill her, but Hannah is exonerated before this can come to fruition. Maybe I missed the importance of the subplots between the flight attendant bringing me another glass of wine.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving, Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. You can purchase his books via his site at www.SteveClarkAuthor.com/BuyBook or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark, read more reviews or speak directly with Steve? Learn more about Steve on his website www.SteveClarkAuthor.com