Frieda Klein has not been back to her home town of Braxton since she was 15, so she is surprised to hear from Maddie Capel, once a member of her group of friends. Maddie is concerned about the behavior of her teenage daughter Becky and wants Frieda to try to find out what’s bothering her.
Frieda is eventually able to get Becky to tell her that she was raped. A man came into her bedroom at night and raped her. Then he told her that no one would believe her if she reported it. Frieda believes her, though, because the same thing happened to her when she was a teenager, and the person used the same words. Frieda’s mother didn’t believe her at the time, and unfortunately Maddie doesn’t believe Becky.
In fact, once Maddie hears what Frieda has to say, she wants her to stay away from Becky, but she agrees to let Frieda see her one last time so she can recommend a different therapist. Frieda thinks Becky seems better, and Becky agrees to report the rape to the police. However, before she can do so, she is found dead, presumably having hanged herself.
Frieda doesn’t think Becky killed herself, though. She thinks the same person who raped her has been assaulting other troubled girls over the years. She also thinks the person learned Becky was going to the police and murdered her.
Frieda is determined to find the perpetrator, which means tracking down all her male friends from the time as well as a popular teacher who was reputed to have affairs with students. She also learns that her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in 23 years, is dying of cancer.
This novel is the fourth in Nicci French’s mystery/thriller series featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein. Frieda is an interesting and complex character, extremely reserved but with a few close friends. A thread that continues from the first series is the existence of a serial killer that only Frieda knows is still alive. I enjoy this series, which always presents a challenging puzzle.