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Dark Saturday by Nicci French

Dark Saturday

by Nicci French

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was a real roller coaster. It started out as a pretty ordinary mystery. About 3/4 of the way in it became a page turner with good twists in the plot. But by the end there was a totally unbelievable denoument with the police inspector being shown to have been the killer after no character development to support it. This could have been a good book, but ended up being very disappointing. ( )
  brookeott | May 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Psychotherapist Frieda Klein reluctantly agrees to assess Hannah Docherty, a woman convicted of murdering her entire family some thirteen years earlier. Frieda finds the physically and mentally abused woman to be as much a victim as her family members who died, apparently at her hand.

Frieda soon becomes involved in examining the original investigation of the crime and, as irregularities come to light, begins to wonder if the young girl was indeed responsible for the murders for which she’s been convicted.

But if Hannah didn’t commit the murders, what will the real murderer do to keep the dark secret of the deaths in the Dougherty home?

This, the sixth book in the Frieda Klein series, is purported to be a stand-alone, but readers will find several references to previous events glossed over, without sufficient explanation for readers to understand the relevance of the backstory.

The convoluted plot, with its unexpected twists, will keep the pages turning. Hannah’s story is likely to intrigue readers; as a character, she evokes sympathy, but the reasons for her despicable treatment at the hands of fellow patients and staff remain a mystery.
Readers may find if difficult to empathize with Frieda; without having read the earlier books, they are at a distinct disadvantage since the connections between the characters are difficult to understand.

The final plot twist is likely to dishearten many readers, but it is in keeping with the dark narrative. Readers may be disappointed with the unresolved plot points, but the cliffhanger ending suggests the next story may answer some of their questions.

I received a free copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Readers program ( )
  jfe16 | May 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a fairly suspenseful murder mystery that kept me reading and interested, if not absolutely breathless.

The plot is a basic whodunnit, surrounding an old case that is not quite being reopened but the question of whose conviction the protagonist is being asked to look into. The heroine asked to investigate is Frieda, a psychotherapist who has has previous dealings with the police and who is now approached by them to make sure that the person convicted of the murder of her entire family, one Hannah Docherty, who has been incarcerated in an insane asylum for 13 years, is not about to question her conviction.

To tell the truth, this struck me as a somewhat flimsy basis on which to found the entire premise of Frieda reopening this case. Apparently, doubt has begun to be thrown on several of the police department's old convictions, and in order to ascertain if Hannah has gotten wind of this and suspects that her own conviction might be questioned and overturned, they turn to Frieda, when, in my opinion, they could easily have asked anyone on the police department itself to do this task. It did not, from their position, require any kind of therapist.

Be that as it may, Frieda "interviews" Hannah, who is near catatonic and clearly has been subjected to physical and mental abuse in the asylum. Frieda begins to look into the case, and from there, the case becomes more interesting, and reads as a pretty procedural, with clues followed up, leading to dead ends, others leading to other characters and clues, etc.

I have to admit, the solution to the mystery did not feel authentic, but rather forced, and there were a couple of key elements of the plot that also did not feel right. One of these involves why Seamus, the ex-husband of the murdered woman, would have taken clothes and old paperwork of his wife and her new husband with him when he went to fetch some of his old things after his divorce from her. (The revelation of this happens fairly early on and is not a great mystery, so I feel certain I am not giving anything away here.) Another major question involves this pile of junk and what the murderer's interest in it would possibly be. However, the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading, and written sparsely, and deftly as a murder mystery should be, with no extraneous meandering.

There is a subplot involving shady past characters in the heroine's life who resurface to cause her trouble here, and this is where the reader is at a disadvantage, because this is not the first in a series of "Frieda Klein Thrillers" as the book cover declares, and while the plot itself is a stand-alone, 99.9% of the characters -- really all of them aside from the ones involved in this particular crime -- are repeat characters from previous Frieda Klein stories. This is not very problematic, but rather annoying, as all the characters have a previous relationship with Frieda, and they all share previous plots and storylines and events. So the reader is at a loss when small mentions of other events are dropped -- kind of like being present at a conversation between two old friends and not really understanding their shorthand and old references to people and places and events. Like I said, annoying.

Frieda herself is little more than a cipher here, not really fleshed out, and I wonder if this is for the same reason: that her personality is illustrated more in detail in previous books, so the reader is left to herself to guess what kind of person she is. The best the authors do is inform us of Frieda's dark and vague forebodings. She speaks of this great dark mass that represents something out there from the past that wants to get her. Because the new reader is not familiar with Frieda's past, this just remains a confusing blankness for most of the book. Even when it is explained, it is done so through another character from previous books who has a complex and dark connection to her.

Thank you to the author and publishers for a review copy. ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | May 20, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062676660, Paperback)

One of the world’s most acclaimed suspense writers, Nicci French delivers a fascinating story of old sins and fresh blood—a riveting thriller perfect for fans of Gilly Macmillan, Jane Shemilt, and Fiona Barton.

She hadn’t realized the stabbing was happening, even though it was with her own knife. She’d stolen it and kept it beneath her mattress and brought it with her, tucked in her waistband. But it has all gone wrong…

A decade ago, eighteen-year-old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the brutal murder of her family. It was an open-and-shut case, and Hannah's been incarcerated in a secure psychiatric hospital ever since.

When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment, she reluctantly agrees. But what she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the thought that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family—that something wasn't right all those years ago.

As Hannah's case takes hold of her, Frieda begins to realize that she's up against someone who will go to any lengths to keep the truth from surfacing—even kill again.

Utterly compelling and enthralling, Nicci French’s thriller takes readers down a labyrinthine trail of secrets, suspense, and murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:56:08 -0500)

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