Book Review: Hide and Seek, by M J Arlidge

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_hide_and_seek.jpgArlidge’s style has me determined to get my hands on each novel in the D. I. Helen Grace series of crime stories. His characters – both the police team members, and each title’s new cast members – are well and truly alive on the page – real, and human with their foibles and fancies.

In Hide And Seek, our favourite police officer-no-more is in her worst possible place: the world behind the bars of Holloway. Both the guards and the inmates (some of whom are there because of Helen) have already adjudged her as a rotten copper – before her trial – and as just another crim.

When the inmate of the cell beside Helen’s is found dead in her bed, left by her killer in a bizarre and ghastly state, it is Helen who has to remind the inmates that none of them are safe. Helen is driven to watch both guards and inmates alike in her effort to identify the killer.

She faces suspicion and hostility from both sides. The second and third kill creates a frenzy among the inmates. An understandable error of thinking delays her eventual discovery of the murderer, which she learns the hard way. Seriously, the hard way.
The unwarranted (as in, not official) actions of loyal D. C. Charlie Brookes are what decides the sequel*.

Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street

Hide and Seek
by M J Arlidge
Published 2016, by Michael Joseph, for
Penguin/Random House
Hardbound:  9780718183837
Paperback:  9781405925624

The Series:
Eeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Doll’s House
Liar Liar
Little Boy Blue
Hide And Seek
* Follow My Leader, later in 2017

Book Review: Little Boy Blue, by M.J. Arlidge

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_little_boy_blueLittle Boy Blue is the first M. J. Arlidge book I had read, so despite this being the fifth book she has featured in, the character of DI Helen Grace was not familiar to me. Having said that, the book was a great stand-alone crime novel and I don’t feel not having read the earlier books was a hindrance.

Along the same lines as Ian Rankin’s Rebus and Mark Billingham’s Thorne, DI Grace is a copper who isn’t universally liked by her colleagues. She also has a secret that could threaten to ruin her career.

When a body is found in a nightclub, Grace discovers she had a very personal connection to the victim. She decides to keep this information to herself and work hard to hunt down the killer and get justice for her friend, but will this be her undoing?

The book drags the reader into a world that most will not be familiar with, that of BDSM. Many participants are keen to keep their involvement in the scene a secret, so working out who was at the club on the night of the killing is not going to be easy. No one wants to talk to the police and tracking down the items used in the murder is next to impossible.
When a second body is found, Grace decides to advise a colleague of her connection to both victims – with potentially devastating consequences.

Obviously in one of the earlier books Grace managed to get on the wrong side of journalist Emilia Garanita, and now Garanita is working hard behind the scenes to bring her down. When she finds a witness who lets slip some damning information about Grace, she knows she has a scoop on her hands.

There is tension at the police station, which isn’t helped by two young up-and-coming officers fighting for Grace’s approval. When investigations appear to point in one direction, they both start to wonder whether their boss is more involved with the murders than she’s letting on.

The evidence against Grace appears to be overwhelming and the order is given to arrest her – but she’s not about to let that happen without a fight. The ending is a real cliffhanger and readers will have to wait for the next book, Hide and Seek (released later in 2016) to discover if the killer is caught.

It was no surprise to find that Arlidge has worked in television for the past 15 years, specialising in high-end drama production. He has also produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV. The ending of Little Boy Blue is worthy of a television series and I hope the books make it to the screen one day. I’ll certainly be tracking down the other books in the series and I’m now eagerly awaiting the next one.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

Little Boy Blue
by M.J. Arlidge
Published by Michael Joseph Ltd
ISBN 9780718180836

Book Review: Liar Liar, by M J Arlidge

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_liar_liarThe opening fiery scene of Liar Liar by M J Arlidge is dramatic, and it is soon discovered that there are two more fires in Southampton. Local police are desperate to find if there is a link between the fires, and a lead opens when suspicions arise about the owners of the first three properties.

Within a day, three more suspicious fires are set.

DI Helen Grace’s new Detective Superintendent is a micro-manager, to her discomfort. Her team instinctively trust Helen’s orders and follow instructions without pause. The Security Operations Centre team and officers sift through the remains of the razed homes and buildings, combing among ash and charred remnants for clues, around the dangerously-near to imminent collapse of structural parts of the buildings.

One family tragedy is the start of many, as the arsonist continues. Our old friend Emilia, newspaper investigator and reporter – and fame-seeker – is right on the scene, publishing ‘only the facts’ about the case. Which serves to add fuel to the fire of outrage among the community. Just when we think Helen’s got it sorted – there come more fires, more deaths, more fraying nerves and tempers – and more leads. DI Grace and her team have to put together bits and pieces of information of which they had not realised the significance.

We begin to suspect she’s on the wrong track, and then more pieces of the puzzle take on a new interpretation, leading to the final gripping chapters and unvoiced questions.

Liar Liar is the fourth in Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace thriller series. Liar Liar gives DI Grace’s fans’ the same fascination in her and the team’s progress through their investigations as we had in the authors’ previous books, Eeny Meeny, Pop Goes the Weasel and The Doll’s House.

Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street

Liar Liar
by M J Arlidge
Published by Michael Joseph Ltd
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-718-18082-9

Book Review: The Doll’s House, by M J Arlidge

Available from booksellers nationwide on 24 April 2015

cv_the_dolls_houseI now know exactly what I will be doing in early September this year: reading the coming Liar Liar, 4th in the Helen Grace series, which started with Eeny Meeny, then Pop Goes the Weasel, and now The Doll’s House – by UK author M J Arlidge, due for release on 12th February. I love this author’s style.

The accidental discovery of a young woman’s body in wet, cold, beach sand, having died of starvation in the darkness, begins DI Grace and her team’s investigation, leading them to trace the body’s identity and background.

At the same time, a parent reports the disappearance of their daughter Ruby, who shares the same hair and eyes.

Grace’s intuition tells her there is a link between the two cases, and when one of her team finds two old case files of similar missing persons, she realises the body uncovered on the beach is the first of three, all sharing distinctive features. Further examination of the beach reveals the two bodies – also having died of starvation in darkness, and over a four-year period. Another serial killer is out and about.

In the meanwhile, Ruby is being held in an isolated room, in darkness, occasionally visited by her captor, who seeks to replicate in Ruby the long gone love of his life, his sister Summer. He fantasises that the “Summer” living in the room below ground (set up to replicate their childhood safe place) is still having difficulty “adjusting” to being together again.

Forced to dress in clothing not of her own choosing, only being fed when she “behaves”, Ruby finds a stash of secret notes in a hiding place behind a loose brick, all written by the three previous captives. She learns to play her captor for small allowances – things she can turn to tools for an escape bid.

Meanwhile, on a personal level, DI Grace’s desperation for finding a trace of her missing nephew* leads her into breaching procedures, snooping through the national police database, and at last finding an entry under his name. A colleague helps track the full file. Grace is caught in a set-up created to rid the team of Grace and the overshadowing glory cast by her earlier successes.

The investigation is ensnared in false leads, but with assistance from a former nuisance, Grace finally has the full picture – where Ruby is most likely to be held, who the captor is, his motivation…and his intent.

The serial killer has found another candidate to become his Summer. Enraged by Ruby’s escape attempt, and realising police are watching his place of work, he tries to dispose of both Ruby and the doll’s house in which he has been holding her.

‘Read carefully, I will say only “zis”‘ … a lone Kawasaki motorbike is faster than a patrol car, and the absence of backup creates an urgent need to go it alone.

Published by Penguin,  this is joining one of my crime authors’ collections on my shelves.

Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street

The Doll’s House
by M J Arlidge
Digital Audiobook ISBN: 9781405921008
Paperback ISBN: 9781405919197
ePub eBook ISBN: 9781405919203

Book Review: Pop Goes the Weasel, by M. J. Arlidge

cv_pop_goes_the_weaselAvailable in bookstores nationwide on Monday 5 January.

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
ISBN-13: 9781405914956

Book Review: Eeny Meeny, by M. J. Arlidge

Available now in bookstores nationwide. 

An established television writer in the UK with acv_eeny_meeny number of successful crime and thriller scripts under his belt, I’m surprised it’s taken Arlidge this long to be snapped up by a publisher.

For a first novel, Eeny Meeny is a remarkably assured and easy read, very much in the vein of Mo Hayder or earlier James Patterson (the good ones!) with an intriguing plot and well-rounded characters not usually found in books so easily read.

Central character DI Helen Grace kicks against the usual female detective stereotype in that she’s as complex as her case in a believable, logical way. No Hollywood hair or CSI wardrobe here. Its obvious Arlidge has spent time researching police procedure as well as the British legal system along with forensics and pathology, and it pays off with a disturbingly plausible story.

Taking the familiar concepts of innocence and guilt, right and wrong and twisting them in ways you just don’t see coming, Arlidge managed to keep me guessing almost right to the end, something that hardly EVER happens!

I read this in one sitting and have consequently been raving about it to fellow crime and thriller fans. With a gritty edge and undertone that suggests more than just a passing dalliance with the dark side, I hope to read more from this author soon. Definitely a talent to watch.

Reviewed by Sarah McMullan @sarahmcmullannz

Eeny Meeny
by M.J Arlidge
Published by Penguin,  RRP $37
ISBN 9781405914888