This is my third Nicci French book and by now I should already be somewhat familiar with their writing style but holy cheesecakes, this book still scared the hell out me and made me stay up all night till its terrifying, nail-biting end. How in the world is this possible?
A. Am I secretly a wimp when it comes to creepy stories? Or,
B. Are Nicci French Thrillers really THAT Good?
Let me give you a hint: You know what they say about watching scary movies with girlfriends as one of the most preferred date ideas because girls are usually scaredy-cats and thereby likelier to hug and cling on to guys? That theory will never apply to me, ever. I’ve watched A LOT of scary movies in my life and I’m telling you: nine out of ten them don’t really scare me—I can watch them alone at home at freaking 12 o’clock midnight.
The same thing is true for books, I guess, because it’s really rare to come across a story that will really creep me out. So when I say I’m terrified—believe me friends, this is an understatement. This is why I never pass up on any Nicci French book—they know how to get your pulse running like crazy because of fear. Killing Me Softly is a legit psychological thriller, folks.
I finished the book in record time—roughly eight hours. I was sick for the whole month of February but on that particular day, I was bedridden with fever, which is just about the perfect excuse to ditch work and just snuggle under the sheets with a good book. Also, thrillers are awesome for all-nighters.
The story is told from the point of view of our heroine, Alice Loudon. It starts with a day in her seemingly ordinary life—a boyfriend who adores her, their beloved circle of friends and a nice, fulfilling job as a research scientist—until she came across this handsome stranger, Adam Tallis, whom she develops a love affair with, changing her life for good.
I remember how a college friend once told me about her utter hatred for the subject of cheating when it comes to books; she tends to dislike stories that involve infidelity and breakups caused by illicit love affairs. I’ve never completely understood why this theme can be so maddeningly frustrating until I’ve read this story. Man, I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated Alice for the first half of the book. I can perhaps say that there are several instances that it’s been essential to mutter ‘You’re so stupid, you deserve to die’ on a couple of pages and there are too many wanting-to-throw-the-book-across-the-room kind of anger involved. I mean, she’s no sixteen-year old and they’re by no means in a high-school setting, so why is she all hormones and zero brain? It takes respect for me to love a character, because how can I care about you when you don’t even care about yourself? She risked losing everything for a man she knows nothing about, on the sole reason that he’s sexually intense in bed. A few seconds of eye contact across a random street and there goes her brain out of the window. And oh, let us not forget that she’s supposed to be a research scientist in the first place.
Thankfully, I came to understand on the next half why this inconsistency in her character is necessary for the plot to kick in. It made sense that she has a job which involves practical reasoning and logic because it creates this dark irony of how her sensibility was overshadowed by the force of desire and obsession. I admit that after reading the first half, I only continued reading because I want to see how her life fell apart and I want to see her suffer so bad because of her wrong, stupid choices in life. When Alice finally got her head back between her shoulders, I started sympathizing with her. I began to appreciate how realistic Nicci French depicted betrayal and infidelity because these themes really needed no sugarcoating. It’s bitter, violent, passionate possessive and always bordering on the possibility to self-destruct. It’s true that some of us really have to learn things the hard way like Alice does.
Also, it may not be the intention of the authors but it tickled me pink that our character is named after that girl who finds herself in Wonderland after falling down the rabbit hole, and that the guy she falls for is named after the man expelled from the Garden of Eve after the first temptation of mankind. Foreshadowing, anyone?
I loved how the story came to its conclusion because everything made sense and yet I was breathless through it all. In the words of Adam:
“I don’t want you to be interested in my life. I want you to be interested in me.”
And boy, was I not only interested. I was intrigued and very much involved about their lives, their secrets, their desires and their fears.
Nobody does plot twists like Nicci French!