Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Blue Monday

Summary: 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. -- Pamela Dorman Books

When I realized that BLUE MONDAY by Nicci French was a psychological thriller, I knew I had to feature it as part of Mystery Mondays; and then, I saw that it was a Pamela Dorman book, I was even more excited. I can usually count on enjoying a Pamela Dorman imprint book, and I can tell you that, once again, I wasn't disappointed. BLUE MONDAY was a terrific thriller and it definitely messed with my mind.

I'm finding it hard to articulate my thoughts about BLUE MONDAY because I really want to discuss what happened, and that's a definite no-no because there are so many twists and surprises in this story. So here's a very brief summary to entice you to read this novel: Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist who realizes that one of her patients seems to have an insider's knowledge a current kidnapping. When she goes to the police with her suspicions, she finds herself working closely with them to solve the crime.

My two sentence summary doesn't even begin to touch the scope of this novel. At it's heart, it is a mystery about who has kidnapped the boy; however, it also references a similar kidnapping from almost twenty years ago. As far as mysteries go, I thought BLUE MONDAY had an excellent one (or two!) and I loved how the story unfolded and the mystery was eventually revealed. There were numerous twists and some pretty major surprises that I thought were so clever, and I was actually surprised by most (but not all) of the secrets.

I admit that it took me a few chapters to really get into the story, and I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to like the book and/or the characters. After completing the story (and realizing that there are more books in the works), I understand why I though it was a bit of a slow start. I think there was a need to create some of the background story of Frieda and other characters. Having said that, once the book started exploring the mystery, I finished it in one sitting. I was that caught up in this story.

While I did enjoy the mystery a great deal, I think I might have appreciated the psychological aspects of this novel just as much (if not more.) That sentence is true on two levels -- the way this book toyed with my mind as well as how it delved into the minds of some very complex characters. I've already mentioned the twists and how much I appreciated them, but I also loved the unique cast of characters in BLUE MONDAY. Frieda is truly one of a kind and I thought she was a wonderful protagonist. At first I thought I wouldn't like her and that was a little too distant, but as I read more, I could see that Frieda had some pretty serious baggage that she was working through. I still think Frieda is a bit of an enigma and I am desperate to know more about her past.

In addition to Frieda, I liked many of the supporting characters -- a few of them provided some humor to a pretty dark story. However, I was also intrigued by the suspects in this novel. They were definitely messed up and had some major issues. I was fascinated by Frieda's relationship with her patient as well as how she eventually discovered his secrets about his past. In addition, this novel explored some complex psychological issues that I don't want to reveal because they might be considered spoilers!

BLUE MONDAY is written by a husband and wife team. I don't know about you, but that absolutely blows my mind. Maybe even more than the book's surprises! I can't imagine working on a book with anyone else, nevertheless my husband. However, they obviously don't have any major problems because they are successful authors of many other thrillers. I definitely need to check them out, and I was so excited to learn that BLUE MONDAY is the first in a series. Someone on twitter mentioned that she's reading the second book and liking it even more than the first one.

As I read BLUE MONDAY, I didn't really think about it as a potential book club pick; however, I discovered that there is a reading guide available. Because the novel did deal with some interesting characters as well as some psychological issues, there is definitely some topics ripe for discussion. It actually would make for an interesting meeting. (I just tend not to think of this genre as a book club type book, but I obviously need to start thinking outside the box.) There are eleven terrific questions in the reading guide and I thought many of them were quite good. Some of the topics you might want to talk about include therapy, trust, responsibility, guilt, intuition, relationships, doctor/patient confidentiality, and betrayal. I do want to warn you that there are spoilers in these questions, so please don't take a peek until you finish the book!

I thought BLUE MONDAY was an excellent example of a great psychological suspense story. I highly recommend it to fans of this genre.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Beth F said...

This is on my must-read pile. Now I just need to find the time.

bermudaonion said...

I want to read this one soon - it sounds like a real page turner!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I too was very impressed at how the book was so seamless, in spite of being written by two people! And that twist at the end - I only anticipated it by a few pages at most!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Can you even imagine writing a book with your husband? I can't. I can barely make it through a home improvement project with him before we start fighting. That said, I do want to read this. I've been hearing good things.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

It would not go well if I tried to write a book with my husband. Lol The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler was also written by a husband and wife team. I'd love to know more about how the writing process works with more than one author, I can't imagine. This book sounds like a great one - thanks for the review!

Marce said...

So glad to have found your blog, how did I miss this, sigh.

Great review, I have been considering reading this one. I tried the spouse authors last year and was impressed, definitely will try more.

Good luck with nominations.