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.