House of Correction by Nicci French [8/10]

House of Correction” is my first Nicci French psychological thriller and after I’d gobbled it down, my first thought was, why had I foregone the previous 23? The husband-and-wife team write smooth, dialogue-rich, never-waste-a-word prose that is like melted butter to an avid reader, and House of Correction is wonderfully conceived and plotted. Tabitha, a semi-depressed misfit with oodles of vim, finds herself in prison, accused of murdering a man in her house, in what looks like an open-and-shut case. Tabitha can barely recall the day in question, possesses no niceties, and has few obvious endearments other than what emerges as an obsessive mind and great determination. The authors have gleefully set up the book as a combination of a locked-room mystery (my favorite sub-genre of crime fiction) and a courtroom drama, the latter enlivened by Tabitha’s conducting her own borderline inept defense. It’s all a swirling, complex plot, the type that’s a treat for a crime fan, and I was captivated. Strongly recommended for anyone who recalls classic mysteries but likes them plonked into a modern setting.

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