Do you enjoy crime TV? How about Silent Witness? Arlidge wrote for that series, and you’ll love Arlidge’s Pop Goes the Weasel.
In this crime thriller, Arlidge has continued to focus the story around the character he first created in Eeny Meeny – Detective Inspector Helen Grace: “I wanted a female protagonist who was different from anything I’d seen before–more interesting than the people she was tracking.” (SoundCloud: Richard & Judy Book Club)
He has written not a linear plot, but near parallel scenes featuring the different characters in the tale, and it works well. The plot covers revenge, spousal and child abuse, prostitution and gang control, and intermingled with the criminal element are snippets of the private lives of the police investigation team
Men turn up dead – and butchered. Their hearts are delivered to their places of work – unlike the first victim, for whom the delivery is made to his home. D I Grace finds her investigation is made difficult by the new Detective Superintendant, Ceri Hardwood, who is keen to advance her career by piggy-backing on the successes of her team. Then there is the callously ambitious crime reporter, using means fair or foul to access information about the progress of the investigation, and leads towards a headline-maker to bump her career. All the while, frustrated but loyal team members follow Grace’s hunches, tracking down leads and people for interview, as they work steadily to resolve the mounting body count and their own domestic issues.
This is more like watching a television production – descriptive passages set the scene, bring action to life, reveal emotions…than reading. No chapter is longer than it need be to present the scene. The tale is tight, and all the more vivid for it. We watch how the British police proceed through an investigation, as they work within the law (with one or two stepping outside for a quick result) to track and trace online and real world activity of suspects or leads.
This was a great read – Arlidge’s style had me stuck to his pages over two days until finishing it. That doesn’t happen often.
If you want a fast-paced, intriguing set of puzzle pieces to fit together, this is the book for you.
(A third in this series is scheduled for release in February 2016.)
Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street
Pop Goes the Weasel
by M. J. Arlidge
Published by Penguin Books