Category Archives: DI Helen Grace Series

Review: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge

Title: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge
Helen Grace Series book Six
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 409 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program

Summary:

Caught in a wicked game of cat and mouse, Helen Grace finds herself trapped among the hunted in the darkest thriller yet from the international bestselling author of Little Boy Blue and Eeny Meeny.

Framed for a murder she didn’t commit…

As one of HM Prison Holloway’s most high-profile new inmates, Helen Grace has a target on her back and nowhere to hide. She has made a long list of enemies over the course of her career—some are incarcerated within these very walls. When one of Helen’s fellow prisoners is found mutilated and murdered in her own locked cell, it’s clear that the killer is someone on the inside.

But time is running out for Helen as she races to expose the person who framed her, and the body count in the prison starts to climb. Helen will need to draw on all her investigative skills and instincts to catch the serial killer behind these murders and discover the truth—unless the killer finds her first.

Review:

Featuring concurrent story arcs, Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge is an electrifying, nail-biting addition to the DI Helen Grace series.

Picking up where Little Boy Blue left off, Helen Grace is in HM Prison Holloway awaiting trial for three murders that she insists she is not guilty of committing. Incarcerated with criminals she put behind bars, she is still struggling to adjust to prison life when one of her fellow inmates is murdered in a particularly gruesome manner. Despite her circumstances, Helen is at heart, a homicide detective so she begins her own investigation into the death. When another inmate is murdered in the same exact way, Helen knows she must stop the killer strikes again.

Outside the prison, Helen’s good friend and fellow copper, Detective Sergeant Charlie Brooks risks her career (and relationship) to clear Helen’s name. The only person on the force who believes Helen’s vehement assertion she was framed, Charlie refuses to stop searching for the man they know is responsible for the murders Helen is accused of committing. Coming very close to insubordination after defying her newly minted boss Detective Inspector Joanne Sanderson’s order to immediately cease working on the firmly closed case, Charlie manages to uncover an important lead that breaks the investigation wide open. Will Charlie manage to capture the wily and intelligent man who meticulously planned and carried out the diabolical plan to frame Helen for three brutal murders?

Back at HM Prison Holloway, Helen is painstakingly attempting to investigate the murders that one of the most sadistic guards thinks she is responsible for committing. Relying on the post-mortem reports and her finely honed instincts, a shocking theory is beginning to emerge. Certain she knows the killer’s identity, Helen tries to uncover the evidence she needs to prove her theory whilst avoiding vicious inmates with an ax to grind and the depraved guards who abuse the inmates in their charge.

Hide and Seek is an exhilarating police procedural with an exciting storyline and an brilliant cast of characters.  M.J. Arlidge breathes fresh life into the series by putting the Helen into a completely foreign and extremely dangerous environment where she is forced to use every skill in her arsenal to stay alive.  Both story arcs move at a blistering pace as the search for the serial killer inside HM Prison Holloway intensifies and Charlie desperately pursues the person responsible for framing Helen. With stunning twists and turns, the novel comes to an action-packed, adrenaline laced conclusion.

While most of the mysteries in the DI Helen Grace series can be read as standalones, I highly recommend reading Little Boy Blue in order to fully appreciate the events that unfold in Hide and Seek.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, DI Helen Grace Series, Hide and Seek, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge

Title: Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge
Helen Grace Series Book Five
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Detective Helen Grace faces her own dark compulsions in the twisty new thriller from the author of Pop Goes the Weasel and Eeny Meeny.

In the darkest corners of the city, there is a thriving nightlife where people can let loose and cross the lines of work and play, of pleasure and pain. But now that sanctuary has been breached. A killer has struck and a man is dead.

In a world where disguises and discretion are the norm, one admission could unravel a life. No one wants to come forward to say what they saw or what they know—including the woman heading the investigation: Detective Helen Grace.

Helen knew the victim. And the victim knew her—better than anyone else. And when the murderer strikes again, Helen must decide how many more lines she’s willing to cross to bring in a devious and elusive serial killer…

Review:

In Little Boy Blue, the latest installment in M.J. Arlidge’s Helen Grace series, DI Grace’s private and personal lives intersect when she and her team investigate a series of murders that target people who are involved in BDSM. Although this newest release is the fifth novel in the series, it can be read as standalone. However, I highly recommend reading the books in order to get background information on the principal characters.

Detective Inspector Helen Grace finds herself in a very awkward position when called to the scene of a lurid murder in a popular BDSM club.  While she does not visit these types of clubs, she does rely on dominators to help quell her guilt and quiet her thoughts and she has worked hard to keep this aspect of her life private. At first believing the death was nothing more than a tragic accident, Grace quickly discovers the man was murdered and even more shocking, she recognizes the victim.  Keeping their connection under wraps, she heads up the investigation which quickly goes nowhere since there is shockingly little evidence at the crime scene.  When the killer strikes again and the victim is someone linked to her, Helen is forced to reveal her secret to her boss but he allows her to remain on the case.  With very little information to go on, the investigation is at a standstill when Helen arrives at stunning conclusion about the murderer’s identity. Will she manage to capture the killer before a very diabolical plan comes to fruition?

In addition to trying to make sure her secrets remain hidden, infighting amongst two of Helen’s underlings jeopardizes the investigation.  Newly promoted to Detective Sergeant, Charlie Brooks is still struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood and her career.  Feeling pressured to prove herself, she is working long hours and when her co-worker, Detective Sergeant Joanne Sanderson, takes advantage of a lead Charlie uncovered, the two are soon locked in a not so private battle for power.  This internal strife plays right into unscrupulous reporter Emilia Garanita’s plans to publicly humiliate Helen.  An unexpected altercation between Helen and her superior, Detective Superintendent Jonathan Gardam, who has been keeping a very watchful eye on her ever since he became her boss, is the final nail in Grace’s coffin once all of these events coalesce into a perfect plan that could possibly destroy her.

The mystery surrounding the murders is certainly compelling but there is very little evidence to help Helen and her team catch the killer.  Stymied at every turn as each clue turns into a dead end, Grace cannot figure out a motive for the crimes.  Did the killer pick the victims at random?  If so, is their lifestyle the reason they were murdered?  As the body count rises, Helen finally figures out not only the killer’s identity but the real reason for the crimes.  Unfortunately, this realization comes just as another shocking scheme is put into motion and Helen finds herself in a very tricky situation that appears impossible to escape.

Little Boy Blue is another riveting installment in the spectacular Helen Grace series that old and new fans do not want to miss.  M.J. Arlidge is a masterful storyteller with an amazing ability to mask the killer’s identity and motive for the crimes with clever red herrings and misdirects.  Although the crimes themselves are satisfactorily wrapped up for the reader, the novel ends on a whopper of a cliffhanger for the very intrepid but highly unlucky Detective Inspector Helen Grace.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, DI Helen Grace Series, Little Boy Blue, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge

Title: Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge
DI Helen Grace Series Book Four
Publisher: NAL
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 458 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Detective Helen Grace gets caught in an inferno of death and destruction in the red-hot new thriller from the author of Eeny Meeny, Pop Goes the Weasel, and The Doll’s House…

Detective Helen Grace has never seen such destruction. Six fires in twenty-four hours. Two people dead. Several more injured. It’s as if someone wants to burn the city to the ground…

With the whole town on high alert, Helen and her team must sift through the rubble to find the arsonist, someone whose thirst for fire—and control—is reducing entire lives to ashes.

One misstep could mean Helen’s career—and more lives lost. And as the pressure mounts and more buildings burn, Helen’s own dark impulses threaten to consume her…

Review:

In Liar Liar, the latest addition to M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series, Detective Inspective Helen Grace and her team are hot on the trail of a serial arsonist.

Helen Grace and her team are called in to investigate a chilling case involving multiple fires set simultaneously at different properties around Southampton. Two of the fires destroy local businesses while the third fire destroys a home and claims the lives of some of its inhabitants.  Grace’s investigation has barely begun when the arsonist strikes again and just like the first fires, two businesses are lost and the third fire in a residential area takes yet another life.  Not knowing where the arsonist will strike next, Grace is under extreme pressure to capture the perpetrator before more lives are lost.

Helen continues to be an exceptional investigator who is battling her personal demons at the same time she conducts her investigation.  She has an excellent crew working with her but she a little off balance as she works her first case under the watchful eye of her new boss, Detective Superintendent Jonathan Gardam.  He seems a little over involved with the investigation but Helen cannot figure out whether this is because he is a micromanager or due to the fact that he does not trust her. She also runs up against an antagonistic fire investigator who turns to ambitious reporter (and Helen’s personal nemesis) Emilia Garanita to try to discredit her and her investigation.

The investigation into the fires turns up few clues and many of the investigators are thrust into uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations as they track down leads.  Helen’s close friend and fellow detective Charlie Brooks is particularly affected as she tries to reconcile her job with her need to be home with her daughter.   Helen manages her stress in a rather unorthodox manner and as the pressure builds she makes a decision that could have disastrous repercussions.  DS Gardam is rather enigmatic and Helen remains a little uncomfortable with his close scrutiny.  Helen’s fragile truce with Emilia is no match for the reporter’s career aspirations and she continues to use sleazy tactics to get information her articles.

Liar Liar is another gripping addition to the DI Helen Grace series.  The story is even paced with chapters that alternate between the different characters’ points of view. M.J. Arlidge does an outstanding job keeping the series fresh with another unique crime to solve and the addition of new characters. The perpetrator’s identity and motive for the fires is impossible to deduce until the pulse-pounding, action-filled conclusion. The mysterious revelation in the final chapter will leave fans anxiously awaiting the next  book in this spectacular series. 

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Filed under Contemporary, DI Helen Grace Series, Liar Liar, MJ Arlidge, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense

Review: The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge

doll's houseTitle: The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge
DI Helen Grace Series Book Three
Publisher: NAL
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 422 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Detective Helen Grace is on the trail of a twisted serial killer in this riveting thriller in the “gripping”* international bestselling series.

Ruby wakes up in a strange room. Her captor calmly explains that no one is looking for her. No one wants her. Except him.

When the body of a woman is found buried on a secluded beach, Detective Helen Grace is called to the scene. She knows right away that the killer is no amateur. The woman has been dead for years, and no one has even reported her missing. But why would they? She’s still sending text messages to her family.

Helen is convinced that a criminal mastermind is at work: someone very smart, very careful, and worst of all, very patient. But as she struggles to piece together the killer’s motive, time is running out for a victim who is still alive…

Review:

The Doll’s House is another chilling installment in M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series. In this outing, Helen and her team’s latest homicide investigation is linked to the recent disappearance of a young woman.

The discovery of the body of a young woman buried on a beach is just the beginning of Helen’s latest case. After discovering her identity, she is stunned to learn the girl’s family did not file a missing person’s report since the victim has apparently been sporadically tweeting and sending text messages. Certain she is not the perpetrator’s first victim, a careful search of missing person’s reports yields a couple other suspicious disappearances and Helen convinces her superiors to go back to the beach to look for more graves. Discovering two more bodies, Helen and her team are sure that Ruby Sprackling’s recent disappearance is most likely connected to their case and they are soon in a race against time to find her before it is too late.

Helen’s squad is still a bit unsettled as new members transition in to replace the detectives who have left. She has a few trusted investigators that she relies on, but she worries there is a lack of cohesiveness among the group. However, by the time the various pieces of the investigation begin to fall into place, the squad is finally working together as a team as they frantically try to save Ruby from her abductor.

Helen’s relationship with her boss DS Ceri Harwood is still acrimonious and they continue to butt heads as Helen tries to convince her that their current cases are connected. She does not let Harwood’s resistance hold her back from following the various leads, but her refusal to co-operate means Helen must occasionally subvert her boss’s authority which causes more friction between them. Ceri’s professional jealousy clouds her judgment on more than one occasion and she eventually makes a decision that she later comes to regret when things begin to spin out of control.

While most of plot centers around the investigation, Helen’s personal life plays small, but pivotal, roles in the storyline. Her search for her missing nephew continues and she makes a few missteps once she uncovers new evidence about him. Helen also feels a startling connection to one of the victim’s fathers and she is surprisingly candid with him about her past. This vulnerability softens the tough as nails investigator and peels back yet another layer of this multi-faceted character.

The Doll’s House is another spellbinding addition to the DI Helen Grace series. The addition of new members to the team keeps the series fresh and Helen continues to evolve which keeps her character from becoming stagnant. The mystery is intriguing and M.J. Arlidge’s skillful utilization of red herrings and misdirects ingeniously conceals the perpetrator’s identity until the novel’s conclusion.  An outstanding police procedural that will leave fans impatiently awaiting the next installment in this superb series.

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Filed under Contemporary, DI Helen Grace Series, MJ Arlidge, Mystery, NAL, Rated B+, Review, The Dolls House, Thriller

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

pop goesTitle: Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge
DI Helen Grace Series Book Two
Publisher: NAL
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From the international bestselling author of Eeny Meeny comes the second thriller in the “truly excellent series”* featuring Detective Helen Grace.

A man’s body is found in an empty house.
A gruesome memento of his murder is sent to his wife and children.

He is the first victim, and Detective 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….

Review:

Pop Goes the Weasel, the second book in M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series, is an perplexing murder mystery that takes readers deep into the heart of the seedy world of prostitution. Who is behind the series of grisly murders in the red light district? Why is the murderer delivering gruesome trophies to the victims’ families and co-workers? Will Detective Inspector Helen Grace and her team of crack investigators catch the killer before he or she strikes again?

Although still dealing with a few lingering events from Eeny Meeny, Helen Grace has put most of what happened behind her. She has a new boss, Detective Sergeant Cheri Harwood, and although they get along in the beginning, their professional relationship grows increasingly strained over the course of the investigation into the brutal deaths. Equally troubling is her relationship with Detective Constable Charlie Brooks who is finally returning to work after a long absence. Helen is also distracted by the demands of sleazy reporter Emilia Garanita who somehow seems to know all of Helen’s secrets and tries to use this knowledge to her advantage.

The investigation of the horrific murders takes many unexpected twists and turns. Just as Helen and her team seem to have a viable suspect, they hit one dead end after another. When one of the investigators tracks down a seemingly credible witness, the case takes another shocking turn that puts Helen at further odds with her boss. She is under mounting pressure from Harwood to find the killer and the future of her career is soon in jeopardy.

Pop Goes the Weasel is written from multiple perspectives and there are numerous story arcs taking place simultaneously. While it is not completely necessary to read the first book in the series, a few of the unresolved plotlines from Eeny Meeny carry over into Pop Goes the Weasel.  These issues dominate the first part of the story which makes for a bit of a confusing read until the focus shifts to the investigation of the murders. The novel is slow paced for about the first half of the book and the abrupt shifts in perspective and short chapters are a bit jarring.

Pop Goes the Weasel is an outstanding mystery that old and new fans of the DI Helen Grace series do not want to miss. The overall investigation is fascinating and M.J. Arlidge does an excellent job conveying both Helen’s frustration at the lack of progress with the case and her deepening enmity towards her boss. The perpetrator’s identity is cleverly concealed right up until the action-packed and highly dramatic conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, DI Helen Grace Series, MJ Arlidge, Mystery, NAL, Pop Goes the Weasel, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Thriller