cover image Catch Me When I Fall

Catch Me When I Fall

Nicci French, . . Warner, $24.95 (326pp) ISBN 978-0-446-57848-6

Long before the diagnosis is pronounced, readers will recognize that 27-year-old London executive Holly Krauss, the heroine of French's disappointing new novel (after 2004's Secret Smile ), is suffering from bipolar disorder, though Holly's manic side is much more pronounced than the depressive. A drinking binge one evening leads to a sordid one-night-stand with disastrous consequences—Rees, the man she sleeps with, begins to threaten her. Meanwhile, Holly's relationship with her business partner and best friend, Meg, is in peril, as is her marriage. During another drunken evening, she loses thousands of pounds in a poker game to a loan shark. Such self-destructive behavior (most notably her poor impulse control) undermines the sense of danger. Of course, a crime lurks at the story's heart (Holly isn't entirely paranoid), but the muddled plot and unsympathetic heroine make this suspense thriller less satisfying than others by French (the pseudonym of journalists Sean French and Nicci Gerrard). Agent, Joy Harris. (Jan. 5)