First Sentence: Like a shiny Christmas display, red brake lights flashed to life across the five westbound lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Psychiatrist Frankie Stein helps her patients deal with phobias resulting from traumatic incidences. When three of her former patients die after seemingly psychotic breaks, Detective Frost Easton starts investigating her and her methods. Wanting to know whether her treatment is responsible, Frankie joins Frost to prevent further deaths and find the Night Bird who has been leaving cryptic messages.
Freeman sets the stage with an opening that is a roller coaster of emotions. The fear is truly palpable.
Frost is an intriguing character who lives in a house owned by the cat who rides along with him. He is a character with depth and someone about whom one wants to know more. His view of psychiatrists is one many people share--“they were happy to pretend they had all the answers, but if one of their patients shot up a movie theater, the finger of blame pointed everywhere except at themselves.”
What a great voice. Freeman captures one’s interest and keeps it; not only with the pace of the story, but with the inclusion of rather fascinating information on phobias, observations on memories—“People thought memories were fixed, but nothing could be further from the truth. Every time you pulled a memory off the shelf and put it back, you changed it. Therapists had a name for the process. Reconsolidation.”—and life in the San Francisco-Bay Area—“Beyond the waters of the small inlet, he could see the brown hills of Tiburon. This little stretch of paradise north of the Golden Gate Bridge was where you lived if you had more money than God. Even God couldn’t afford the views here.”
It is always fun to read a book set where one lives. Freeman’s descriptions are very well done and accurate except for one tiny thing that always makes natives chuckle, but it works well for dramatic effect.
An author who makes one think about, and even asks, questions is one to be appreciated—“What changes are you willing to take to get what you want? What dangers do your choices create for other people?”
The suspense is truly creepy, yet subtle. It builds nicely at an ever-increasing pace.
“The Night Bird” is such a good read, with an excellent ruse perpetrated on the reader, and an ending that is as twisted as is Lombard Street.
THE NIGHT BIRD (Pol Proc-Det. Frost Easton-San Francisco-Contemp) – VG
Freeman, Brian – 1st in series
Thomas & Mercer – February 2017