A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge - A Book Review

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

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…


Pop Goes the Weasel: A DI Helen Grace ThrillerPop Goes the Weasel: A DI Helen Grace Thriller by M.J. Arlidge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pop Goes the Weasel: A DI Helen Grace Thriller by M. J. Arlidge is a 2015 NAL publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A dark, intense, gritty, edge of your seat thriller!

This is the second book in the Helen Grace series and if you have not read the first book, I highly recommend you read it before starting this one, since the story pretty much picks up where the last one left off and there are spoilers.

As you may recall, Helen and her team were put to a real test with a heart pounding. race against time. chase to catch a serial killer.

Now, Helen is back on the job, (!!!), and trying to put the shattered pieces of her life back in order. But, the dynamic has changed with the entire squad under new leadership making Helen's life a pure misery, not to mention her old friend with the press who seems to have a personal vendetta against Helen, practically stalking her.

But, Helen doesn't have a great deal of time to address the political areas of her job because there is another serial on the lose and this time the target appears to be family men who hire prostitutes.

Any time the sex trade is under the microscope, you know things are going to be rough. The perverted depravity of men who claim to be good, faithful, family men will have their dark secret revealed, exposing their hypocrisy, and anyone could be the next victim.

I was incredibly impressed with Eeny Meany, the first book in the series, and of course we all know that when a debut novel is that good, the bar has been set and the second book will have some mighty big shoes to fill.

I am happy to report that not only did this novel maintain the level of excellence I was hoping for, but may have even exceeded it a bit. While the taut, sweaty palms, suspense in Eeny Meany isn't as prevalent in this book, the writing and characterization has really developed giving the reader a very realistic and human insight into the lives of the detectives working this case, which the media as dubbed “Jack the Ripper in Reverse”.

Tony and Charlie both have compelling story lines which expose the raw underbelly of human needs and the pressures of family and work, which can lead to tough choices and decisions.

But, Helen once again steals the show. This is one tough cookie, let me tell you. She's still relying on her special friend, still dealing with the emotional repercussions of the past, and coping with her fragile position on the force. Helen is one of the most puzzling and complex characters I have come across in a long time and I'm very curious to know what else, besides the obvious, lies behind some of her more bizarre behaviors. I really like her, warts and all.

The author doesn't sugarcoat the characters, the crimes, the drama, or the politics. It's so real, so dark, so suspenseful it feels like it's really happening, which made me squirm a little from time to time. I was pulled so deeply into the story, was so invested in the character's lives, and so absorbed by the twisted, sick games of a sadistic killer, I had to remind myself to breathe. The twist and turns took me where I sometimes didn't want to go, but then led me around a corner to an even more startling revelation. I could never have guessed how all of this would turn out, but at least this time Helen is given a slight reprieve in the end. She may not have long to bask in it, but I feel like she got her mojo back a little and will be a formidable force to be reckoned with in the future.

This is an outstanding series, highly recommended to those who read very dark, graphic, violent thrillers that explores the darker side of human nature, not only of the bad guys, but good guys as well.

4.5 stars



Pop Goes the Weasel: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller

M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specialising in high end drama production. Arlidge has produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV In the last five years, and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.

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