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Book review: <i>Eeny Meeny</i> by M J Arlidge

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the cover of the book

A killer is kidnapping people in pairs. There is only one way to escape, ever. Can detective Helen Grace find the killer and stop the carnage in time? And why is the killer trying to get Helen's attention?

The story

Detective Helen Grace has everything under control and regimented, it's the only way her life works. She's and excellent detective, strict, fair, knows how to run an investigation. Her personal life may leave a little to be desired – perhaps she is making up for a buried past – but she leaves all that at home when she's investigating. She looks after her team, as well. She knows their strengths and weaknesses, and she knows how to get the best out of them during a tough investigation. It's near Christmas, her least favourite time of the year, and she's following her usual routine and working hard.

Suddenly, two missing persons becomes a most unusual crime. A young couple who'd gone missing while hitchhiking turn up – one alive, one dead. Amy, who has survived, is so traumatised she can barely describe what happened. But her story is almost unbelievable. Helen Grace goes against all predictability and follows her gut – Amy is telling the truth. But what kind of killer abducts two people at a time, and then only lets one go when one has killed the other?

When another couple go missing, Helen begins to sense a pattern. She tries to keep the connection out of the press, and the story is so strange they don't cotton on as quickly as they could. But Helen and her team are racing against time. Who will be the next people to go? The choices seem so random, but well planned. And the killer is always one step ahead. Is there a traitor in Helen's team? Mark, who's marriage is ruined and is drinking to compensate? Charlie, who Helen has never really liked? How can they solve this mystery when everything is conspiring against them?

The style

Once again, Eeny Meeny falls into that category of a textbook great thriller. I don't mean that to sound somehow derogatory – the overwhelming majority of thrillers are terribly written, and this one is a good cut above. It's not a Pulitzer winner or anything, but it's engaging and easy to read and twists in all the right places. It's a quick read – mainly because you don't want to put it down. I had it on my kindle and it kept me company through a selection of airports and waiting rooms and hotel rooms and I breezed through it, which I think is a great quality in a thriller. I find if they're no good, you end up staring around the airport. But Eeny Meeny had me utterly engaged.

The point of view is third person, and switches between all the main characters (Helen Grace, Mark, and Charlie) and also tells the story of each of the pairs of kidnap victims. The suspense is great, Alridge clearly knows how to direct right up to the last second, and the reader never knows quite what will happen next, who betrayed who, and why they did it until exactly when Alridge wants them to. The actual plot is solid. It's a bit original – I've never read that particular serial killer peccadillo – and this combined with the narrative devices makes it a very engaging read, and keeps you on the edge of your seat till the end.

Who is this book for?

For people who love the genre, why wouldn't you?

If you like this book, you would also like...

The Helen Grace novels are a series. And I for one would very much give the whole series a crack, just for their readability. If you were stuck for ideas, I think it would be a solid series.


In short

Title: Eeny Meeny
Author: M J Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0451475497
Year published: 2015
Pages: 432
Genre(s): Thriller
Review Type: