This week’s much loved crime novel is submitted by Suzigun who blogs at Novel Heights and prefers to read murder mysteries and thrillers on her daily commute to London.
There aren’t many author’s whose first book I can vividly remember buying but Nicci French’s THE MEMORY GAME is one that really stands out. It was 1997 and I was in the process of being made redundant and had been sent to London for some “counselling” on finding another job. After the meeting I mooched along Victoria Street and couldn’t resist a wander into what I think was a Books Etc at the time. Browsing the hardback section I couldn’t resist this book (despite knowing that my funds were about to become limited). A black and silver dust jacket with a square cut-out in the centre through which you could see the image of a memorial angel in a graveyard…OK, perhaps you had to be there! But I bought the book on the strength of that beautiful cover and I didn’t regret it.
It wasn’t the best crime fiction book I’d ever read but the characters really came alive. I had no idea that this was written by two authors (husband and wife Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) rather than one, and it was some time before I found that out. The writing gave no hint of this or that it was a first novel. I enjoyed the book enough that I kept buying their titles as they were published, and what came later was a revelation. These protagonists were like me! Well not exactly like me because I’ve never been caught in the middle of a psychological thriller, but it COULD be me. The main character would be a woman, perhaps my age or a little younger and they would be normal and live the kind of life I did. Having been brought up on Christie and Sayers and American cops and lawyers this was a real eye-opener.
I bought and read and cherished each title, and yes some were better than others, but they all gripped me and swept me along with the action.
Then there was an announcement that the writers were moving away from standalone books and embarking on an eight book series. I felt hugely disappointed. Part of the joy of the books was the new characters each time; after all it would have stretched credibility too far for the characters to be caught in more than one deadly situation! So Blue Monday was published in 2011 and it’s several jobs later and in my spare time I’m reviewing and blogging about books. The main character is Frieda Klein, a psychotherapist living in London. She’s more an enigmatic than engaging character and I enjoyed the book but wasn’t blown away by it. So “Monday” was followed by “Tuesday’s Gone” and the authors managed to surprise me again. They really knew what they were doing and all those gripes I had were swept away because it was all part of a bigger picture. Yes Frieda is older, but it seems I am too – how did I not spot that! All of which made me feel foolish for my earlier disappointment – I should have trusted these people more.
So to bring this back to Maxine, I found her comments on Petrona echoed my feelings. She made some lovely comments about my review of Tuesday’s Gone, and we were both looking forward to reading “Wednesday” which has just been released. Which is sad, because when I read it I wanted to know what she thought of it too. So all I can do is say that I read it and thought of her, as I will the rest of the series and much other crime fiction.
author: Nicci French (learn more at their website)
original language: English
publication date (UK): 1997