Review: Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge

Wednesday 28 October 2015
Title: Liar Liar
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 10th September 2015
Pages: 440
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It's more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encountered before.

Because this is no firestarter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder.

But why were the victims chosen? What's driving the killer? And who will be next?

A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off...

M.J. Arlidge's Helen Grace series is fast becoming a must-read series for me and after finishing Liar Liar I feel confident in saying it could be his best book yet. Certainly in terms of the story and definitely in terms of character development. Despite how much I love this series, I have never really connected with Helen Grace, even though I do really like her as a character. In Liar Liar she goes on quite a journey, and I finished the book really understanding her more. She's definitely an interesting character and she isn't like most other detectives in the genre which I think is something that helps her stand out in the crowded crime fiction genre.

Fire is terrifying, and that's what Helen Grace is up against in Liar Liar when over the course of one night there are three arson attacks across the city of Southampton, sending the city into chaos. It isn't long until the team have their first casualty and the hunt is then on for a murderer who is about to embark on a seemingly endless attack on Southampton. Some of the scenes in Liar Liar are brutal in their intensity, but it did make the book impossible to put down. M.J. Arlidge puts you right at the centre of the drama, and doesn't hold back in his descriptions. He really humanizes the characters we read about who are victims of the arson attacks, giving them a detailed backstory and what this did for me was made me see the characters as real people, feeling a connection towards them, making it a hard-hitting story which evoked real and genuine emotion from me.

Helen Grace soon has her work cut out for her at the start of the investigation with people from all corners demanding answers. She has her new boss who at times was a little mysterious himself. The surviving victims of the attacks and their families who want justice. And, the people of Southampton themselves who are living in fear of further attacks. It's a tense read at times and we really witness the struggle Helen has in how she should investigate the case, and you really feel for her when she makes some quite costly mistakes. The way the investigation progresses is believable, and Arlidge's experience in television is evident throughout as I could easily see this working as a TV drama. Some of my favourite scenes came from Grace interviewing certain suspects and how she carried out the investigation, it was real edge of your seat stuff and really got the adrenaline pumping.

Because I want to work things out for myself I think I often think too far outside the box sometimes and I had a couple of crazy theories playing out in my mind as to who the arsonist could be. I have to say that I was completely wrong which did surprise me if I'm honest. Arlidge's arsonist is somebody I never would have guessed, and it was a brilliant reveal because of that. The closing scenes were particularly powerful and gave real pause for thought. Again, if this was a TV drama those scenes would be very dramatic but, even on the page they have stuck with me long after finishing the book and writing this review. A rather intriguing cliffhanger (of sorts) should lead nicely into the fifth Helen Grace book, which I just cannot wait to read. If you are yet to discover M.J. Arlidge then you have four of the best crime fiction books in recent years to check out, and you can see reviews for all of them right here on my blog.

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