The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red-light district – horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed.
Hours later – and barely cold – the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.
A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.
The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes. For Grace, only one thing is certain: there’s a vicious serial-killer at large who must be halted at all costs . . .
So a year and a day since reading my first M. J. Arlidge and DCI Helen Grace novel, I find myself reviewing the second in the series. The timing wasn’t planned but it does make me realise I need to get my reading skates on to catch up with what is looking like an excellent series of crime fiction.
Why is it so good? In a large part it’s because of Grace, a complicated and complex character whose heart might be in the right place but who never seems to get things right. She is well written and rounded, someone you want to find out more about. I always enjoy reading these type of female detective, well at least when they are done well, and that’s the case here. It makes a story much more interesting because you don’t quite know what they are going to do next to mess things up – or if they’ll make it back from the brink.
Of course, a good character would be nothing without a good plot. Like Grace, this one is complicated and complex, with lots of twists and turns. There’s a fairly big twist which turned the story on it’s head for me and, suddenly, I found I had more than a little sympathy for the killer. Yes, they were still evil but I could see what had driven them to it. Even at the end when they get caught – because they have to get caught – I felt slightly ambiguous about it. I felt it was a slight shame that they hadn’t found peace and a way to escape. To be able to do that is, I think, the sign of a good writer and M. J. Arlidge is just that. The book is well written, tightly plotted, and kept me turning the pages.
I feel like I’ve used the word good a lot in this review but I can’t help myself because it was just that, more really. It was a very good book. I liked it a lot and will definitely be trying to catch up on the three more books I have left to go.
p.s. if you want to check out my review of the first book, Eeny Meeny, you can find it here.
I love this series and I am actually almost done with book 5 and boy is our favorite character in some trouble. Hope you catch up with the series soon! 🙂 Great review!
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Oh no now I need to read faster. The third is on my shelf so I’m getting there. I hope no one dies, I don’t think I could cope!
Stormi makes it sound intriguing! I’m at the stage where I need to read this one, I have it right beside my bed. In fact you’ve pushed me into moving it to the top, barring any blog tour reads – I’ll have to check the diary. Fab review, as ever Emma!
I am a big fan of mysteries with detectives who are so interesting that we are as intrigued by them as by the murder they’re trying to solve. This series sounds like one for me. Thanks!
IT really is a good series. I just wish I wasn’t so far behind!
Oh Emma this is one of those series that I have been trying to convince myself aren’t for me (I have so many crime series I follow) but your great review is making it very hard to resist them.
I think they are well a go. It’s just the catching up with 5 books!
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I’ve enjoyed this series as well, though missed one (The Doll House?). I’m enjoying DCI Grace’s character progression. And the fact Arlidge isn’t afraid of killing off major characters means these are less predictable as well!
I have The Dollhouse to read next. I like authors killing off characters too. There was a show here called Spooks and a major character seemed to die every few weeks. It meant it was always fresh.
[…] Pop Goes The Weasel by M. J. Arlidge, the second in a crime series I am way behind on but determined to catch up with. This one features Helen Grace, a troubled but determined detective you can’t help but like on the trail of a serial killer you end up having some sympathy for. […]
[…] So after waiting a year between reading M. J. Arlidge’s first two books featuring DI Helen Grace I decided I didn’t want to go that long again, picking up The Doll’s House from the library almost as soon as I’d started Pop Goes the Weasel. […]
[…] Pop Goes The Weasel by M. J. Arlidge, the second in the Helen Grace series, this one had me feeling sympathy for the killer as well as the victims – hard to do […]