The Doll’s House by M. J Arlidge

Dolls House

Having pretty much inhaled the previous two books in this series in three days flat, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the third instalment of M J Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series. I absolutely loved Eeeny Meeny (#1) and Pop Goes the Weasel (#2). If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers and haven’t given these a go yet, you really must. You can check out my review of the second one here.

So what’s part three about?

A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.

Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing – her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it’s chilling evidence that she’s searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful – a predator who’s killed before.

And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation, she begins to realize that she’s in a desperate race against time . . .

In a somewhat familiar opening scene, we meet Ruby waking up in disorienting circumstances: ‘She had gone to sleep in her nice, cosy bed. But had woken up in a cold, dark cellar’. In other news, the body of a young woman with a distinctive tattoo is found on a beach and it soon becomes clear that her killer starved her to death: ‘Her stomach has shrunk to the size of an orange, bone strength has been compromised…’ Pretty gruesome, huh? Unfortunately, Ruby Sprackling’s disappearance fits the profile and DI Helen Grace is required to come to the rescue and solve the case.

The characters we’ve come to know from the previous two books all have more of their story to tell here. Emilia, Jake, Charlie and Helen Grace herself are all developed further and as we’ve come to expect from Arlidge, the short, sharp chapters and roller-coaster pace ensure you really will resent every moment you don’t have your nose buried in it. It’s chillingly visual – the author’s TV background is again apparent and I’ll eat my paperback copy if we don’t see Helen Grace on our screens in one way or another in the reasonably near future.

All in all, this is another gem from one of my newest favourite authors. And the best news? Liar, Liar (#4) is expected to be published in September. I literally can’t wait!

‘At times like this Helen had no thoughts for her own safety – she would die doing this job, she knew that – and she longed for that…’

Eeny Meeny – #1 is available on kindle for only 95p at the moment:Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1 (A DI Helen Grace Thriller) or paperback for only £3.85: Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1

Pop Goes the Weasel – #2 is available on kindle: Pop Goes the Weasel: DI Helen Grace 2 (A DI Helen Grace Thriller) or paperback for only £3.85: Pop Goes the Weasel: DI Helen Grace 2

The Doll’s House – #3 is available on kindle:The Doll’s House: DI Helen Grace 3 (A DI Helen Grace Thriller) or paperback for only £3.85:The Doll’s House: DI Helen Grace 3 (Detective Inspector Helen Grace)

If you’re feeling particularly keen, you can also pre-order Liar, Liar – #4 on kindle for only £3.99: Liar Liar: DI Helen Grace 4 (A DI Helen Grace Thriller) or paperback for £7.99: Liar Liar: DI Helen Grace 4 (Detective Inspector Helen Grace)

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Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J Arlidge

Pop

This is the second book in the new DI Helen Grace series which started with the publication of Eeny Meeny in May 2014 and which was talked about ALL over the bookternet, so of course I had to read that one first. I was completely hooked and ended up reading both books in three days. Huge thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

NB: This second book gives away a lot of the plot of the first one, so DO read them in order if you haven’t read either yet… I’ve not included any spoilers in my review, just in case.

What the blurb says:

A man’s body is found in an empty house. His heart has been cut out and delivered to his wife and children.

He is the first victim, and Detective Inspector Helen Grace knows he will not be the last. But why would a happily married man be this far from home in the dead of night?

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives.

Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is – or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase…

Eeny Meeny explored a truly horrific idea: two people are kidnapped and kept in complete isolation. Only one can be released by using the gun provided on the other. Pop Goes the Weasel is set a few months later whilst the characters are still dealing with the aftermath: ‘There had been many who’d called for her to be stripped of her badge. For acting alone… for deliberately misleading fellow officers…’

This story is slightly less horrific and violent than Eeny Meeny but still gory in the extreme: ‘The top lolled lazily backwards, revealing the legend “Evill” written in dark crimson on the underside. It was the perfect introduction to the box’s awful contents. Lying within, in a nest of dirty newspaper, was a human heart’.

Both books are extremely fast paced – there is no getting bored here! They absolutely race along with any number of twists and turns along the way. Based in Southampton, this story is intricately plotted and Arlidge begins to further develop the character of Helen Grace for us. This is no one dimensional fictional detective; Helen Grace is a seriously complex character. Whether she is entirely likeable is questionable, but that doesn’t seem to matter in the least.

We meet many of the same characters from the first novel and get to know them just a little bit more –Tony and Charlie are just great. Each character has their own backstory – that of the killer being no exception. One victim’s wife particularly got under my skin – she irritated the hell out of me, in a completely good way! ‘Because he’s my husband. The head of the family. I am his helpmeet and I support him in any way I can, but it’s his duty to correct us when we require it’. I mean. AAAGGGGHHHH!

The chapters are short and hard-hitting. In theory this means you can easily dip in and out of the novel. In reality, it just makes it harder to put it down! I was convinced I knew what was coming on more than one occasion and was (as in the first novel), reassuringly wrong in every case. Arlidge poses some serious questions about the nature of good versus evil here, and the story stayed with me long after I’d finished the book. I’m only grateful that he is proving to be a hugely prolific author – the third in the series is due out next month, and the fourth in September; I can’t wait to read more.

Eeny Meeny is available on kindle for only £3.49: Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1

And paperback for only £3.85: Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1

Pop Goes the Weasel is £2.99 on kindle: Pop Goes the Weasel: DI Helen Grace 2

And paperback for £3.85: Pop Goes the Weasel: DI Helen Grace 2

Part 3 – The Dolls House – can be preordered on kindle for release 12th February for £4.31: The Doll’s House: DI Helen Grace 3

And part 4 – Liar Liar for £3.99 for release 10th September: Liar Liar: DI Helen Grace 4