Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 June 2021 from Orion
My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy for review
A crimewave sweeps through the city and no one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?
Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.
And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it….
Matthew Arlidge likes to make sure that Helen Grace never, ever gets comfortable. That poor woman has been put through so many wringers, it’s surprising she has any juice left.
Helen and her team are struggling: Southampton is facing an upsurge of violent crime, some of it apparently motiveless – all of it brutal. Charlie Brookes, Helen’s second in command is still on maternity leave and the team are short-handed.
Not only that, but worst of all, the poisonous DS Joseph Hudson has never got over being dumped by Helen and is now hell-bent on bringing her down. To achieve that, he is deploying a range of tactics, from spreading dissent within the team to fuelling discontent from the public by feeding Helen’s nemesis; reporter Emily Garanita.
As Helen struggles to find a causal link between the crimes, she finds herself without allies, being sniped at from all sides and even her team are beginning to look wobbly over their support for her. Helen’s losing confidence, but she always been a bit of a lone operator, and backing her into a corner just makes her all the more determined to come out fighting.
Now I read way too much crime, so I did work out the basis of this plot, though not who was behind it, but that in no way prevented me from enjoying this fast and furious tension filled read. Car crashes, murders, arson and more, populate these pages and brutal, bloody killings are making the pages of the Southampton paper on a daily basis.
With pressure from above and her team fragmenting, Helen feels isolated but is still prepared to back her own judgement in the face of concerted pressure to do otherwise.
Arlidge’s short, snappy chapters aid the build-up of tension and excitement. The internal strife will concern Helen’s fans and Arlidge plays on that as he leads the reader a merry dance, throwing red-herrings in our path and introducing us to a plethora of unsavoury characters.
You’re left with the feeling that Helen surely can’t take much more, even as she fights back with everything she has.
But this time she is up against a nasty and slippery adversary. And while she may be able to get to the root of these cases, Helen will find that doing so has long term implications for her own well-being.
Verdict: A must read addition to this fine series. Fans of Helen Grace will not be disappointed.
M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a Number One bestseller. His first thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, Love Me Not, Down to the Woods and All Fall Down.