Land of the Living
The first 50 pages of Nicci French's LAND OF THE LIVING are amongst
the most terrifying, chilling passages I have ever read. Nicci
French has written nothing short of a harrowing, enthralling
thriller in the best tradition of PRESUMED INNOCENT and SILENCE OF
Abbie Devereaux awakes to total darkness. She awakes not knowing
who she is, where she is, or how she got there. She awakes to the
realization that she is tied, gagged and blindfolded. Her memory is
failing her; she is on the verge of knowing what has happened to
her, but she can't … quite … grasp … it: "There
were other things at the edge, clamoring to be admitted to my
brain. Bad things. Restrained. In the dark. Hooded. Ridiculous.
Could it be a joke? I remembered stories of students. They get you
paralytically drunk, put on a train at Aberdeen. You wake up in
London dressed only in your underwear with a fifty-pence piece in
your hand. Everyone will jump out in a minute, pull off the
blindfold, and shout 'April fool.' We'll all laugh. But was it
April? I remembered cold. Had summer been? Was summer still to
come? But of course a summer had always been and there was always
another summer to come."
What has happened to Abbie is no joke. She has been abducted and is
being held by a nameless, faceless man intent on killing her ---
and she is not his first victim. He regales her with stories of the
other women he has kept, kept to the point that they completely
lost their senses, and then he killed them. Abbie tries desperately
to hold on to her sanity; she won't let him break her. He is
patient and is in no rush to do her in. But she is patient, too.
And in a moment of heavenly luck, she escapes.
Now her real ordeal begins. She must convince the police, her
doctors, her family and her friends that she has been kidnapped and
held against her will. The moments, days really, leading up to her
abduction reveal themselves over time to be radically different
from the bits and pieces she remembers. French offers tidbits,
morsels, and teases that keep one reading and wondering. Her
abusive boyfriend has a new girlfriend. Why is he no longer with
Abbie? She flitted from friend to friend, seeking comfort and help.
How come no one remembers where she was last? Her job is no longer.
What happened to destroy her career? And she has a mysterious new
roommate that she never sees. Who is this person, and where is
As if seeking the answers to all these questions isn't enough, she
must solve the crime that has been perpetrated against her, because
no one else is willing to help. And her abductor is close on her
trail. Need I say more?
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 22, 2011