This is book six in the detective/psychological thriller series featuring psychotherapist Dr. Frieda Klein, who is the occasional collaborator of London Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Karlsson. The authors (Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing team of husband and wife Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) keep Frieda’s character rather opaque, but we have gotten to “know” her bit by bit as the series proceeds.
In this installment, Frieda has a favor called in by a shadowy powerful figure, Walter Levin, who had gotten Frieda and Karlsson out of trouble in the previous book. Levin wants Frieda to interview a young woman, Hannah Docherty, who has been in a high-security psychiatric hospital for 13 years after having been convicted of the brutal murder of her whole family when she was 18. Frieda can’t get much out of Hannah; in the Chelsworth “hospital” Hannah has been beaten, shocked, over-medicated, and kept in prolonged periods of isolation over the years. It appears to Frieda that if Hannah hadn’t been insane to begin with, she certainly would have been subsequent to the abuse she received over the years. It also seems to Frieda, from the record of the murders, that some aspects of the case just didn’t add up. Levin is looking into the actions taken by the chief detective on the case, Ben Sedge, but Frieda becomes more concerned with Hannah herself, and decides to investigate what happened on her own. She wants to begin with the presumption of Hannah’s innocence – something no one else countenances.
She asks Levin if he will arrange access for her to continue to see Hannah, and requests Karlsson to help as well. Since Karlsson has broken his leg, he sends her his Detective Constable Yvette Long instead. Yvette has no great love for Frieda, but she agrees to help for Karlsson’s sake, and reluctantly finds herself becoming intrigued with the inconsistencies of the case as well.
Although Hannah hardly speaks, she has many tattoos that seem to tell a story, if only Frieda can decipher them. And while Frieda doesn’t know it, there is less time to learn Hannah’s story than she knows.
When Frieda isn’t conducting her impressive sleuthing, she is dealing with the continuing stalking of her by the serial killer Dean Reeve, who is obsessed with Frieda.
All of the plot strands come together in a tense, page-turning ending.
Evaluation: This psychological suspense thriller ends with a shocking denouement I didn’t see coming. (Although, it must be said, I never see anything coming.) In addition, there is a cliffhanger that will make you eager for the “Sunday” installment of the series.
Published by William Morrow, 2017