Last year I was enthusing about the penultimate Frieda Klein novel, Sunday Morning Coming Down. In that review I said I couldn't wait for this one, in which the whole seven year saga of Frieda's curious relationship with the terrifying psychopath Dean Reeve comes to a close. So I was delighted when it came out, and have just finished listening to it on Audible. Sadly, though, it didn't quite make it for me.
In case you're not familiar with this series, Frieda is a psychotherapist. Seven years ago events drew her into an acquaintance with Reeve, who has become obsessed with her. Numerous crimes and murders have resulted from this. Frieda and Reeve have not met for seven years, but he has been sending her covert messages - the last one was a corpse buried under the floorboards of her home.
In this latest novel, Frieda has disappeared. Indeed she's not even mentioned in the early chapters. The novel begins with a young woman taking her children for a walk in a busy Hampstead street. As they linger outside a shop, a car comes racing down the road, narrowly misses them, and smashes into the shop window. Police investigation reveals that the supposed driver is in fact a corpse, who has been dead for some days. It becomes clear eventually that this, and several more bizarre scenarios, are the work of Reeve. Next, we meet a young girl called Lola, who wants to write her undergraduate dissertation on Frieda Klein. Frieda's friends and family have no idea where she is. Eventually Lola runs into her by chance beside the grave of Frieda's ex-lover, and discovers that she is in hiding because she knows Reeve is planning to kill her. By an even bigger chance, Lola has actually encountered Reeve, who was one of a pair of fishermen she met on the bank of the canal and whose photos she took on her phone. Frieda believes that Lola is in danger and persuades her to go with her into hiding. Soon the two women are shuttling from place to place, always in secret. But Reeve seems to be on their track in spite of all Frieda's skill in evading him.
There are certainly some exciting twists and nail-biting moments in this novel, so why wasn't I as bowled over as I'd hoped to be? Two things - first I felt some of the coincidences stretched my credulity a bit, though in itself that's something I can generally overlook. The main problem I had was with Frieda herself. I'd had my doubts about her in the early novels, but as I said in last year's review, I'd managed to warm to her. I'm afraid that hasn't lasted. So what's wrong with Frieda? I've started finding her terribly cold and humourless. Yes I know, you could hardly expect her to be a barrel of laughs when she's in hiding from a mass murderer, but a smile from time to time would have been helpful for poor little Lola, who she treats with unremitting coolness. And then there's her psychotherapist-speak, which has never been more in evidence and which irritated the hell out of me. I've always been really sorry to end the novels in this series and been left longing for the next one, but now I'm thinking enough is enough and I'm glad the Freida/Reeve saga has come to an end. Will poor little Lola recover from the traumas she been through? Will Frieda and her policeman friend Carlson end up together? We will never know.
Sorry to sound so churlish. Anyone else read this?