Review: Pop Goes The Weasel by M.J. Arlidge (5/5)

Tuesday 9 September 2014
Starring returning heroine Detective Inspector Helen Grace Pop Goes the Weasel is the latest heart-stopping thriller from M.J. Arlidge, author of Richard &Judy Book Club pick Eeny Meeny.

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...

I wanted to read the first book in this series, Eeny Meeny before Pop Goes the Weasel but unfortunately didn't have time. This book gives away major plot details about Eeny Meeny that while you could still read it after this, it would probably take some of the enjoyment out of it as it sounds like it was an action packed read. The same can be said for this book, it was gripping, original and very hard to put down - I read the first 200 pages in one sitting. 

It's hard to know where to start really. Perhaps with our main character Helen Grace, a woman with a troubled past, a trouble present and an unclear future she's damaged both from her past and the events of the Eeny Meeny which resulted in her near death. The case opened her up to the public thanks to an ambitious journalist at the local newspaper. Despite all these secrets however we learn that she's got even more as we see her following a young man one night but have no idea why...

When the body of a man is found in an abandoned house with his heart missing it becomes clear that he was visiting a prostitute. His heart is then delivered to his family. I'm just going to say it, this is absolutely how I love my crime fiction. Bloody, gory and terrifying. When more bodies turn up it is up to Helen and her team to hunt the killer down and stop further killings. In a twist on the usual murder of prostitutes who could be murdering their clients? We learn early on a big clue as to who it is but still we are left wondering why? And how many more bodies there will be...

Also returning to work is Charlie and Helen appears quite hostile and unwilling to have her back on her team. For returning readers this will all be clear but it just intrigued me more. As the book progresses so does their relationship and it was certainly an interesting dynamic within the story. In crime fiction especially it can be difficult for authors to create characters that are unique but Arlidge manages it here. Both Helen and Charlie have their demons and are extremely interesting characters. 

The book moves at a quick pace as the bodies pile up and the police begin to close in on the killer. Despite having to read this on my iPad I couldn't put it down, it was a read in a couple of sittings book for me. The writing is superb, subtle in places yet packing the punch needed when required. Also the chapters are relatively short which usually helps me storm through a book a lot faster. After the mixed reviews for Eeny Meeny I was unsure about this book but having finished it I have no trouble in recommending it. I'm wondering how the series will progress onwards from this, I don't want each book to be the same but want them to retain the bloodiness and fast pacedness of this novel.

Oh and this book has had me whistling 'Pop Goes the Weasel' for days now... 

Thanks to Penguin UK for the review copy via NetGalley.

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