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Tense psychological mystery set in London

20th September 2021

The Unheard by Nicci French, tense mystery set in London.

Tense mystery set in London

In case you are unaware, Nicci French is the pseudonym for husband and wife writing team, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, which makes for an interesting voice (or should that be voices?). I have always liked their storytelling and this is largely no exception.

Tess is a single parent, separated from Poppy’s father, Jason. Poppy arrives home with a drawing that causes her mother quite some concern, a woman seems to be falling from a tower and she is muttering about death: “He did kill”. She has also started to use swear words. Tess is convinced that Poppy has witnessed something quite terrible and the more she goes down the rabbit hole, the more convinced she becomes. She is also starting to play up and behaving out of character, all underlining that there is something to worry about.

She seeks a psychological evaluation and then heads off to report her worries to the police, who soon have her down as a neurotic – a fantasist – mother, who is blowing things up out of all proportion. The police officers are simply not hearing her and when by chance during her researches for a possible victim, she discovers mention of a woman, and she goes into overdrive. This was probably a bit of sticking point for me, as the extrapolation that this could be the victim – and thus linked to Poppy’s concerning illustrative expression of angst – just seemed rather far fetched. Anyway, the story progresses and Tess, essentially, has to do her own sleuthing to unravel what has been going on and keep herself and her child safe. This of course doesn’t go down well with the police. Tess has several men in her life who potentially come into the frame (one particularly random fellow who seems to play an oddball bit-part player, which was a little strange).

Is the ending clear cut? It certainly left me with a raised eyebrow, wondering if I was supposed to draw a different conclusion about what really happened!

I listened to this as an audiobook and found it, as expected, engrossing and well written with a good psychological slant.

London features recognisably as the backdrop.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021