Source: Review copy
Publication: 9th June from Orion
My thanks to Orion Crime and Compulsive Readers for an early copy for review on this blog tour
When you think you’re safe,
When you think you’re all alone,
That’s when he’ll come for you…
A silent killer stalks the city, targeting those home alone at night, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the victims.
As panic spreads, Detective Inspector Helen Grace leads the investigation, but is herself a hunted woman, her every step shadowed by a ruthless psychopath bent on revenge.
As she tracks the murderer, Grace begins to suspect there is a truly shocking home truth that connects these brutal crimes. But what she will find is something more twisted than she could ever suspect…
I’m a huge fan of the Helen Grace series and was very keen to read this one. Head of Southampton’s Major Incident Team, poor Helen is the most put upon, stalked police woman in the force anywhere in the UK and it’s fair to say that Southampton has more than its fair share of serial killers. It helps of course that she is tenacious, single minded and has no time at all for bureaucracy or bosses who get in the way of getting the job done.
Helen’s had her share of superior officers who thought they could better her, and this time it seems she may have met her match in Chief Superintendent Alan Peters, a man who expects his subordinates not to have minds of their own. But backing Helen into a corner just makes her all the more determined to come out fighting.
Arlidge writes in short sharp chapters and that helps to set a fast and furious pace for this action packed police procedural. Helen Grace is an extraordinary character and for the reader that is part of the attraction. She demands and gets 100% from her team, but no-one is harder on Helen than Grace herself. Let down by too many people, she has no life of her own and seems destined now, to be the leather clad, motor-biking avenger of Southampton’s streets.
In the 11th in the series, a vicious axe killer is stalking Southampton’s streets. What has the team stumped is an absence of discernible motive or any link between the victims. As Helen struggles to find a causal link between the crimes, she comes under heavy pressure from her boss and even her dependable sidekick, Charlie, does not seem to be entirely on the ball.
As if that were not enough, Helen is still being targeted by a killer from her last case and – as if that were not enough – the poisonous ex DS Joseph Hudson is hell-bent on bringing her down. Local newspaper reporter, Emily Garanita is never too far away either, waiting for Helen to make the mistake that will enable her to put Helen’s fall from grace on the front pages.
Verdict: I enjoyed this latest episode in the Helen Grace series, and I really enjoy Arlidge’s writing, but it is beginning to feel as if Helen has nowhere left to go. There’s no discernible character development (other than in Emily Garanita) and the plot while offering some points of difference seems too familiar to previous cases. It may be time to rest this series or to give it a major shake-up. I love Helen Grace and always enjoy the internal politics that M.J.Arlidge’s characters have to endure alongside their danger fuelled tracking down of vicious killers but this one is treading territory that feels just a bit too familiar.
M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specialising in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014 and has been followed by nine more DI Helen Grace thrillers – all Sunday Times bestsellers.