Book review: Friday on My Mind by Nicci French

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 Permalink

In my review of the Nicci French novel, Thursday’s Children I was fairly blunt in relation to my antipathy toward psychologist, Dr Frieda Klein. Prickly and unlikeable I struggled to care a lot about her (and her welfare). I still enjoyed the book—predominantly because the Gerrard / French combo can still spin an absorbing tale. Despite Frieda.

Unfortunately I’m assuming Frieda’s going to stay in play right through the week, so we have a Saturday and Sunday to get through yet. <Insert sigh here.> However… on a happier note, I actually found her less grating this time around and almost… almost cared whether she lived or died found myself on her side.

Friday on my Mind

When a man’s body is pulled from the river with a medical band bearing her name, Frieda’s called in to identify the body. It’s Sandy—her former boyfriend, with whom she split eighteen months earlier.

Police Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Hussein and offsider DC Glen Bryant are assigned the case and quickly become suspicious of Frieda and her offhand manner.  This is exacerbated when the Commissioner calls Hussein into his office to air his many grievances against Frieda and her checkered history with the police. They soon discover that Sandy’s been practically stalking Frieda and was seen yelling at her just days before his death.

So when Sandy’s wallet is found in Frieda’s apartment she becomes the number one suspect and is about to be arrested when she surprises everyone by going on the run.

While evading police and trying not to get her friends in trouble (#spoileralert – she doesn’t succeed) she attempts to uncover Sandy’s murderer herself.

As usual Gerrard & French offer up a decent whodunnit, with a stack of suspense added for good measure. I was pretty much kept guessing until the end… but continued to grapple a little with the (lack of) depth of the characters on offer.

I did however, feel a bit more engaged with Frieda this time around, and related to her more than in previous works in the series. I’m not sure how to explain it other than saying she seemed more human (particularly around the children in this novel). She’s still her own worst enemy—she never comes across as infallible; just strange and inaccessible.

But again there’s so much that just doesn’t fit although I’m sure the authors mean for Frieda’s character to be a dichotomy between sociopath and therapist. On one hand she won’t tell anyone where she is hiding, but on the other she presents herself at a friend’s offering to provide daycare to their child. Like I said, I’m sure it’s done on purpose but frustrates me nonetheless.

Friday on my Mind by Nicci French, published by Penguin Australia was released on 24 June 2015.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher for review purposes.

Yet another unlikeable character. Perhaps it’s me?
Nevertheless, I much prefer earlier work by the Nicci French pairing!

  • Stormi D Johnson
    June 30, 2015

    I hate when I can’t seem to like the character. Great review! 🙂

    • Debbish
      July 1, 2015

      Fortunately the French / Gerrard combo offer a good whodunnit or I’d really struggle with this series.

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    July 1, 2015

    Lack of depth in the characters… interesting. You must tell me what you mean by that Deb for my own writing. Can you email me if you get time?

    • Debbish
      July 1, 2015

      Sure will. It felt like I didn’t get to know them very well. Some of the characters in this book I’d come across before but probably still don’t feel I can relate to / or know much about. At some of the creative writing classes I’ve been to we’ve done exercises – like… interviewing some of the characters, or writing a backstory you might not use etc so that you know them well as you’re writing them.

      Will email!

  • laurelrainsnow
    July 5, 2015

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this one…so far, it is unavailable here. But soon, I hope. I loved the previous four…and while I probably wouldn’t pick Frieda as a friend, or even enjoy working with her (I was a social worker, and interacted regularly with therapists), she made an interesting character. And yes, her own worst enemy.

    Thanks for sharing…great review.

    • Debbish
      July 6, 2015

      She’s a bit more like a living and breathing entity in this one Laurel. And appears to have a heart. Sort of.

      She’s always doing idiotic things but she pretty much excels herself here. However… she shows more ingenuity than I’ve come to expect from her previously.

  • Teddyree
    July 6, 2015

    In my review of Thursday’s Children I debated whether Frieda Klein had a heart. She’s not someone I warmed to at all but I thought if I’d read the books in order I may have developed more of a connection with her … maybe not. I almost never read a series out of order, I’m a little OCD like that but the publisher assured me it worked well as a standalone. Maybe I’ll go back to the start but meh who knows …

    • Debbish
      July 6, 2015

      Teddyree… I’m not sure you would have. I think (from memory) the first one was actually a DNF for me. I’d borrowed a FastBack book from the Brisbane Library when I lived there and I started it but kept delaying getting back to it. It wasn’t until I read the next I realised it was part of a series. I like most of the duo’s work but this series has been a struggle for me.

  • Sharon West
    June 11, 2016

    I love Nikki French books – secret Smile is actually one of the best books they have written I think. My problem has been with the Frieda Klein books and I have finally given up reading the latest one because I have found it to be really slow and boring – I won’t bother with the rest of the series but look forward to another non-Frieda story!

    • Debbish
      June 11, 2016

      Same Sharon… surely they’re nearly done.

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