Sunday, March 31, 2013

FLAWLESS PAS DE DEUX





There are two levels of partnership in the Nicci French novels. The obvious one is that of the couple,  Nicci Gerard and Sean French who write novels collaboratively. The less obvious collaboration belongs to  the   the reader. That the test that separates mediocre writers from masters It is a test the duo  meets with aplomb. Theirs a creation so pitch-perfect that reading TUESDAY"S GONE, their latest novel is as satisfying as   listening to first-rate music.
That is not to say that their main character,   psychotherapist Frieda Klein is an everlasting source of glorious consonance. Self-contained, so guarded that she seems armoured against ordinary feeling, she brings occasional harsh notes to the story. But none of these are accidental notes. They are all in keeping with harmony, grace and flow. Outwardly prickly, Frieda reveals her inner self in tantalizing  bits until  the reader finds the root of her compulsion to  to do more than sit in her office with   patients who bare their hearts--or not-- fifty minutes at a time. Frieda is brilliant capable of getting into people's heads. That is what makes her such a valuable asset to Detective Inspector Malcolm Karlsson. Having helped him e catch a killer in BLUE MONDAY, the first volume of this series, she will help him once again  in TUESDAY'S GONE,  even though  her police work threatens to derail  her career as a therapist. She talks toughs, but she never lets anyone down.  This combination of toughness and vulnerability makes her  is one of the most believable, most endearing  protagonist in the decade to enter the overcrowded field of mystery novel.
In TUESDAY'S GONE she and  Karlsson must  puzzle out the various identities of a murder victim before they find out who killed him. This, they do in sequences so skilfully plotted, so seamlessly put together that once again good music comes to mind. There are no extraneous notes in this composition--nothing to add, nothing to delete. Nicci French revisits and enlarges upon  Frieda's attempts to keep her feelings at bay, the demands the problems of clients and  relatives  make on her,  Karlsson's anguish at the changes in his family life are as real as if the writers had followed them around with a video camera. In fact, every character in this book is memorably alive--Joseph, the Ukrainian builder who first appeared in MONDAY BLUES; Chloe, Frieda's troubled young niece; the women whose secrets the murdered con man ferreted out, the con man himself and the murderer whose leitmotif is so subtle, so intelligently arranged that it completes and augments the entire composition.
There are  contemporary masters of crime writers whose works deserve a  special place in the genre--Scott Turow, Matt Rees, Jason Goodwin, Daniel Silva, and  Louise Penny,for example. Nicci French is a brilliant addition to that list.


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