Review: The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge

Wednesday 11 February 2015
Title: The Doll's House (DI Helen Grace, #3)
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 12th February 2015
Pages: 448
ISBN: 9781405919197
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.

Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing - her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it's chilling evidence that she's searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful - a predator who's killed before.

And as Helen struggles to understand the killer's motivation, she begins to realize that she's in a desperate race against time . . .

The Doll's House is one of the books I have most been looking forward to reading in 2015 and it did not disappoint in the slightest. The DI Helen Grace series is fast becoming one of my favourites (yes, another one!) but really, it is absolute top quality crime fiction with real longevity and so I can't wait for book four, Liar, Liar (which is out very soon, no torturous wait for us impatient crime fans). M.J. Arlidge is one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction, and his experience in television has translated extremely well, allowing him to write authentic crime novels with all those hallmarks that keep you glued to the screen, or in this case book!

This book has a rather compelling opening, as Arlidge sets the scene brilliantly, feeding you enough information but then holding the rest back, demanding that you read on. A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar with no recollection of how she got there, or who her captor is. DI Helen Grace is called to a remote beach, the body of a dead woman has been found, believed to have been dead for a couple of years, her family are perturbed as she has been communicating with them during that time (through technology only). Helen Grace is a little bit too quick to work things out at times, and does stray a little too close to 'Supercop' at times for my liking and she soon finds herself on the hunt for a killer, trying to save a young woman's life in the process. The book moves at just the right pace, containing enough red herrings to keep you guessing and with enough going on in the background to make The Doll's House an action-packed read.

Where this book excels for me is in its characters, and their continued development. Helen in particular is an intriguing one, with enough about her to stand out from the crowd. The story concerning her nephew which I have never been sure about in the past completely came into its own in this novel and it was brilliant. Often the side stories in crime fiction lessen my enjoyment, but that's not the case here. Usually in crime novels we have that camaraderie amongst the officers, but in The Doll's House there's a lot of animosity and competitiveness amongst the team which I enjoyed, especially between Helen and her Superintendent. I do enjoy those moments where as a reader you can sit back and feel quite smug and let's just say that happened a couple of times in this book. Returning readers will be familiar with the character of Charlie, and I very much enjoyed the developments with Helen and Charlie now they are friends again.

I don't know whether this series runs the risk of becoming a bit samey though, with Helen continually on the hunt for a killer. Most crime authors do start to mix things up after their introductory novels so I would like to see that here in the future, by perhaps taking Helen out of Southampton for a case or just doing something completely different. That said, when an author is capable of writing books this good, I'm not going to complain. You could say as crime fans we are spoilt for choice, but I'd say it's a case of seeking out those books that are a step above the rest, and Arlidge's books are definitely that. Seek them out if you haven't already, and if you have already read them then pick up The Doll's House and enjoy. This is a book (and a series) that deserves to be read, and not sit languishing on a TBR.


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