It’s no secret that I am a fan of M. J. Arlidge, a British author who writes a series with DI Helen Grace as the central character. I reviewed Eeny Meeny here and Pop Goes the Weasel here. Since those two books have been published, Arlidge has written The Doll’s House and Liar Liar. I read them back to back.
The Doll’s House
About the book: 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 clever and resourceful – a predator who’s killed before. And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation, she beings to realize that she’s in a desperate race against time.
About the book: In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It’s more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encounter before. Because this is no firestarter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder. But why were the victims chosen? What’s driving the killer? And who will be next? A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off.
My review of both: Arlidge is a master storyteller. He writes beautifully. Helen Grace has been intriguing from the start, a dedicated Detective Inspector who is driven to find the perpetrator and has a need to save all those in peril. She has a dark past that drives her present life. And that makes her a complex and completely compelling character.
As well, Arlidge gives us a strongly written look into the workings of the police department: the comings and goings of various personnel, the political machinations, the rivalries, as well as the support that a dedicated team provides for each other. In the course of the four novels, there have been changes in Grace’s team, due to various reasons – all of which have been written in depth with great insight into the human spirit. There is a recurring cast of characters in Helen’s colleagues – and we get to know them as well.
Arlidge always takes us into the mind of the victims and the perpetrator. As Helen’s story is unfolding, so is theirs. With the simultaneous stories being told, Arlidge’s skills in pacing, in planting a clue here and there, in building suspense, are on full display.
With each one of these novels, I have been on the edge of my seat as the action propelled itself toward the climax. I read a lot of mysteries, so I’ve developed an ability to figure out the ending of any given book. But not with these. I have no idea how the plot will be resolved and I simply cannot stop reading until the final period.
I can’t recommend these books highly enough. This series is a winner and I will be anxiously awaiting the newest installment of the DI Helen Grace series.
You can pre-order The Doll’s House, which will be available here in the States on February 2, 2016, on Amazon. Or you can buy the Internation Edition, which is already available.
The International Edition of Liar Liar is available now on Amazon. The Stateside version will be published on June 7, 2016.
About the author: M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and most recently, Undeniable. Currently writing for the hit BBC series, Silent Witness, Arlidge is also piloting original crimes series for both UK and US networks. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014.