This book opens with the kidnapping of a five year old girl in 1987. I thought that I would not be able to read it but I kept going. Am I glad I kept reading! This story is one that you just cannot put down.
Frieda Klein is a therapist who gets a new patient after her boss and former mentor screws up the patient’s initial appointment. The patient Alan, talks about how he wants a child and fantasizes about a red headed son he mysteriously gets. When a little boy matching the described fantasy child disappears, Frieda goes to the police and starts a series of events that she never would have imagined. Even though this lead doesn’t pan out Frieda keeps getting contacted by the lead detective and the two of them plug through many twists and turns involving Alan, the kidnapping, and even the 1987 kidnapping.
Frieda herself is going through some difficulties with her family and the man who has recently become her lover. The police detective is having family issues. Her boss, Reuben has split with his lover and of course the patient at the center of it all, Alan, is coming to Frieda for anxiety related to his family or lack of one.. The interesting thing about Alan is that he seems to be in the most stable relationship of all the characters. The book goes into the workings in a therapist’s mind when she knows she may be crossing an ethical line in service of the greater good of the community and whether that is really a valid reason to do so. Frieda does seem to be a principled person, who finds herself in an unimaginable situation.
Every time you think you have figured out what is happening in this book, you are surprised by a new twist. The final twist is especially shocking (although I had suspected) and the book does not tie up all of the loose ends. This is the first book in a series by Nicci French, who is actually a husband and wife writing team and maybe some things will be revisited or as in real life, sometimes we never get answers. I eagerly await book two in the series!