I have long felt an outcast in the world of literature. While I have always frequented the likes of Jane Austen and Daphne du Maurier – and revelled in the depths of knowledge that I have discovered within the pages of their books – my true indulgence comes in the form of less prestigious and infinitely more exciting works of cheap, thriller fiction. Because of this, when I was to embark upon a month’s trip to South America this summer, I found the Frieda Klein series to be the summum bonnum of guilty literary pleasure.
Although I took the whole series (which was probably not the best idea as it didn’t leave much room for trip essentials in my tiny rucksack) I fell firmly in love with the first instalment of the series, Blue Monday. In it, we are introduced to prolific psychotherapist, Frieda Klein. Klein, a private and emotionally guarded woman, finds herself caught in the midst of a criminal conspiracy when a client recounts the kidnapping of a boy during their sessions. Frieda dismisses the delusion as one being caused by the man’s unmanly desire for a child; however, her suspicions are aroused when she sees the news that a child has vanished without a trace…
Through the privilege of her position as confidant, she becomes her own investigator, determined to discover the truth, apprehend the twisted culprit behind the kidnapping and, above all, save the boy before it’s too late.
The plot becomes increasingly separated from reality, and is enough to question the psychological stability of even the most sane human being. The narrative constantly switches from the lives of all those connected to the incident, including the criminal, whose perverted subconscious becomes increasingly psychotic and can give the reader a genuine feeling of fright. The ability to make the reader glance suspiciously over their shoulder while reading their book is be an accomplishment to which all good thriller writers should aim.
The writing duo, under the alias Nicci French, have managed to elegantly intertwine the lives of seemingly different people of all walks of life into a rich, raw narrative. They use this as a subterfuge, which keeps us guessing at the plot right up until the last second where, when after murderous revelations rear their ugly head, the smoke clears and we are offered a simple yet impossible answer to the puzzle that has been laid before us. Or are we? The supposed perpetrator of the kidnapping, and subsequent murders, who is also an evil twin (I didn’t see that coming either) seems to make a remarkable getaway, much to my horror and disbelief.
So you see, while this literature may not be world-renowned or stand the test of time as a ‘true great’, there is as much intelligence, elegance and beauty in the realm of thriller fiction. Blue Monday is one of the best examples of this. French exposes the most grotesque aspects of human life and creates a world that we never knew existed.
Summed up in two words? Beautifully thrilling.
Words By Joe Lewin