Sunday, May 24, 2015

Eeny Meeny

by M.J. Arlidge

Penguin     2015
432 pages    Thriller

Remember folks! May is mystery month. 

Eeny Meeny is the first of a series of thrillers by M. J. Arlidge involving Detective Inspector Helen Grace in Southampton UK. Before the end of the year, the other three, Liar, Liar, The Doll's House and Pop Goes the Weasel, will be released in the United States. 

Nobody does police procedural thrillers better than the English—with the possible exception of the Swedish. And Eeny Meeny is very representative of that genre. The characters are complex and well developed. The plot is fast and furious. It is all very visual and visceral. It is also not for the squeamish! Arlidge has had a career as a television writer, and there are some very visual aspects of the writing, as well as breaks that are similar to scene breaks. 

The quick synopsis of the book is this: "Two hostages. One bullet. One lives. One dies." Eeny, meeny, miny, moe!  The plot develops quickly. A young couple goes missing. After several days, the young woman reappears, disheveled, starving and dehydrated. The young man is dead. A few days later, two business men disappear. A pattern of serial killing is revealed. As Detective Inspector Helen Grace chases the serial killer with a very perverse agenda, she slowly comes to realize that these crimes are not disconnected; they are all about her. Once she comprehends that, she is able to solve the crimes. 

One of the clever portions of the writing are long passages written in italics. We don't know who these passages are about, except that they are passages written by a very damaged individual. Is it the killer? Is it DI Grace? We aren't sure until we are nearly at the end—which, by the way, we have read at lightning speed. I was reading it on my Kindle, and I couldn't flip the screen fast enough. The sign of a good read! However one reviewer was not so kind. He says: "there were at least two occasions on which I wanted to hurl the book at the wall as the plot takes turns so utterly preposterous that they defied credibility and almost undermined the whole enterprise." Probably a good thing I  was reading too fast to notice the preposterous plot turns because hurling the Kindle might have been disastrous.

I was curious about the title, Eeny Meeny, but I soon realized that the title is perfect, because that is exactly the game the killer is playing—and it's not anything like the choosing game we used to play when we were kids! 

Speaking of police procedurals, have you watched Broadchurch, the BBC series? Season 1 (8 episodes) is on Netflix and Season 2 (8 episodes) is on Amazon. It is incredibly good. The pathos is palpable; a young boy has been murdered in a small resort village by the sea. The entire community is affected horribly. This is a series that is perfect for binge watching. When I told my sister about it, she stayed up practically all night watching season 1. 

Well, anyway. Look for Eeny Meeny which is published in the US next week. 

Ben Hunt has a very good mystery novel blog. I was glad to find it. His review of Eeny Meeny. He says that the series has potential, and that the next book, Pop Goes the Weasel, is meeting the potential.

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