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Tuesday, 3 March 2009
By Nicci French
I found it difficult to put down Nicci French’s Losing You. The book spans a twenty-four hour period, giving the reader the impression that it was written in one sitting and the pace is reflective in the story. I could almost hear the clock ticking,
In Losing You, the setting is an imaginary strip of land off the bleak coast of East England that becomes an island at high tide. It is just before Christmas, where mud and water surround the insular mistrusting small community, all adding to the eerie atmosphere. This is where the main character, Nina Landry, has recently settled and the reader finds her facing the nightmare that most parents dread – her daughter, Charlie, has gone missing.
Nina is desperately alone in her frantic search as those around her – friends, family and even the police, consider Charlie’s disappearance to be fuelled by adolescent angst (she is almost sixteen) rather than anything more sinister.
As the reader, I found myself bumping along with Nina, upending drawers and searching in cupboards for leads and strips of dry (and wet) land for clues, whilst re-tracing Charlie’s footsteps. As if the story line and setting is not intense enough, the book is also written in the first person- that of Nina. The voice, feelings and movements of Nina race across the page and whirl endlessly within the readers’ mind. I found myself consumed with suspicion of all the characters within this close-knit community as I entered Nina’s terror-filled mind.
For people unfamiliar with Nicci French, the name is a pseudonym of Nicci Gerrad and her husband, Sean French. Whilst they have and indeed continue to write independently, they also pair up to write crime fiction. This in itself is an intriguing concept and technique for fiction writing. As their fiction is concerned with the victim rather than the criminal, they provide us with psychological journeys, full of credible characters that the reader will connect with. It is virtually impossible, as a parent, not to relate to Nina Landry in Losing You, as the duo that is Nicci French has found yet another subject that people rarely dare to ponder over but all secretly fear.
Reviewed by Angie Bartoli