What comes after Sunday? When you’ve had Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and all the rest and come round to Sunday again – what comes next? Another Monday? Impossible. These may be the feelings of one having to go to a loathed job for yet another week in order to pay a few bills (‘out of proportion,’ as Philip Larkin so sagely observed) – they are also the reactions of one having read the entire Frieda Klein series from ‘Blue Monday’ right through to ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ and wondering, what next? Where can we possibly go now?
‘Day of the Dead’ is the answer to this. I said, having finished the ‘Sunday’ volume, that it was impossible for them to leave it that way, and so it was: ‘Day of the Dead’ was announced last month (at least to me it was; I expect insiders knew this was coming months ago) and I immediately put my name down for a library copy, knowing that I would otherwise have to wait for the paperback to come out as I’d ascertained from Waterstones that the hardback would cost upwards of £16.
I was already fifth on the list and so expected September to have largely passed before I got my hands on it, but lo! ‘Day of the Dead’ was waiting for me on Monday (I got the email on Sunday and spent an impatient 24 hours before the library opened) and as I’d predicted, within another 24 hours I’d read the damned thing. Fortunately Nicci French’s books stand more than one reading, in fact I’ve read most of them several times; once breathlessly to reveal the plot and then to think about such things as character and description and to savour the world which the novelists evoke. This world is I think the best thing about the books; all but one are set in London, and at the centre of this world is Frieda’s house, her haven. But this haven is destroyed when the body of a murdered policeman is found under the floorboards and so the dance of death which began on Monday, continues. As I wrote in my review of ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’:
Frieda is propelled into exile by these events; not only the policeman’s murder but by attacks on all her friends which are designed to distress her to the utmost, since Frieda is a fundamentally unselfish person. Behind the attacks is the shadowy figure of Dean Reeve, a man whom police believe to be dead but who Frieda finally convinces them is alive, having murdered his twin brother and taken his identity. At last the police are on the case – but can they or someone else solve it before Frieda herself is discovered and murdered? The dance can only end in death – but whose death will it be?
You’ll have to read the book to find out. I don’t do spoilers – at least, not till a book’s been out a while.