Kit Quinn is a young woman who inhabits dangerous worlds: crime scenes, interrogation scenes, hospitals for the criminally insane. Horribly wounded in an attack by a suspect, she must return to the site of her worst fears. She is asked by the policeto advise them on a simple murder inquiry. A young runaway has been found killed by a canal and the chief suspect is the man who wounded Kit. But Kit refuses to accept appearances and her obsessive search for the truth draws her into an underworld of the missing and the unloved which puts her at terrible risk.
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Many are the writers who tackle the field of the psychological thriller, but few create such a dark and compelling world as Nicci French. The Red Room inhabits the same sinister universe as such previous thrillers as The Memory Game and the book that many consider to be her finest to date, Killing Me Softly. French is concerned with the unstable surface of reality and the malign undercurrents of human behaviour forever threatening to disrupt the tenuous happiness of her characters. In The Red Room, her particular priority is the queasy attraction of the forbidden and the terrifying.
Kit Quinn has a job that many would find too disturbing to tackle. Her beat is the world of crime scenes, hospitals for the criminally insane, the grimmer prisons. In her latest assignment, colleagues in the police ask for her help in what initially appears to be a straightforward murder inquiry, in which a youthful runaway has been killed near a London canal. At first, the evidence points to the killer being a man who wounded the murdered young woman, but Kit has learned that the appearance of things in a deceptive world may not be trusted. As she descends deeper and deeper into a brutal underworld of lost and exploited youngsters, she finds herself as at risk as the young victims she is dealing with.
What makes this more than a conventional thriller is the author's fastidious examination of her heroine's tortured psyche. Kate has suffered terrible wounds in a savage attack, and there is something unhealthy about her immersion in the kind of life that left her with terrible scars. French is particularly sharp on her efforts to push her life back into some kind of conventional order. The Red Room has the customary dangerous voyage to the centre of a mystery that is par for the course for the genre, but this is also a study of the troubled psyche of a damaged heroine, and her dark world view:
Beware of beautiful days. Bad things happen on beautiful days. It may be that when you get happy, you get careless. Beware of having a plan. Your gaze is focused on the plan, and that's the moment when things start happening just outside your range of vision ...
"* 'Nicci French has taken the genre by storm.' Mirror * 'Truly chilling... suspenseful and stylish, this breezy read does not miss a beat.' Daily Mail * 'A nail-biting can't-put-it down read... tightly constructed and thoroughly gripping' Elle"
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