Review: Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge

Monday 18 April 2016
Title: Little Boy Blue
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 10th March 2016
Pages: 380
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Detective Inspector Helen Grace is no stranger to tragedy. But when a body is found in a Southampton nightclub, the death cuts too close to the bone.

Hiding her personal connection to the victim - and a double-life which must remain secret at all costs - Helen becomes a woman possessed, working her team around the clock to chase down every lead.

As the killer strikes again, the investigation takes its toll not only on Helen but also her senior officers. Tempers flare, friendships fray and Helen faces an impossible choice.

Confess her sins and lose control of the case? Or keep living a lie, protecting her darkest secrets, and risk getting trapped in this tangled web?

But whatever she does, this killer will not stop until the truth is revealed: there are some fates worse than death...

It's hard to believe that Little Boy Blue is the fifth Helen Grace novel. This series has very quickly became one of my favourites after the last few releases. They are without doubt some of the best crime novels written in the last decade, with strong characterisation and brilliant plots. I have no idea if this is true but I think book five could be the book that M.J. Arlidge has been building up to, alongside each main storyline of the previous books there's been a number of subplots involving the personal life of Detective Helen Grace, and one of those subplots takes centre stage in Little Boy Blue.

DI Helen Grace is a very complex and troubled character. The same is true of many fictional detectives, but there's real depth to Helen and she's a character who has fascinated me every single time I've read about her. In the past I have alluded to her 'secret life', and those who have also followed her story will obviously know what that is. In the past it was something that didn't confuse me as such but as a plot device I just wondered what it was all about, and where it was going. But, as said earlier this has got to be the book that Matthew was building up to because it's just too well plotted and thought out to have not been.

Helen is no stranger to tragedy. But, when a man is killed in a Southampton nightclub the death cuts too close to home, as Helen knew the man personally and intimately. She must keep this connection from her colleagues and superiors so that she can take on the case and hunt down the killer. But, when the killer strikes again, Helen soon faces an impossible choice. And not even she has any idea of how this case is going to play out. There are some truly jaw-dropping twists in this story that I stupidly felt like I should have seen coming, but which I'm glad I didn't because on this occasion I was more than happy to be surprised.

M.J. Arlidge's storytelling is just incredible. It's probably some of the best I've read in crime fiction and he totally immerses you into this world that he has created. I started this book late one afternoon and it was nighttime before I looked away from its pages. Characterisation is something else that Matthew does exceptionally well and, knowing the backstory of each of our characters, it makes the emotional impact felt by the reader when certain developments unfold even greater and so I would recommend reading this series in order if possible. One of my favourite characters is journalist Emilia. She is kind of your typical crime fiction journalist, you know the type, hungry for a story and will stop at nothing to get it, but, she just has this edge that other fictional journalists lack for me and actually I think she might be one of my favourite characters in the whole series never mind just this book. She's trouble. She can sniff a story out from nowhere and she's just a really great character to have in the book.

In terms of where this story eventually goes, all I will say is prepare to be both shocked and possibly annoyed. Shocked because I just didn't see it coming, and some readers might feel annoyance because the story ends on a rather frustrating cliffhanger, but, for me at least, this has left me even more eager for the next installment. I simply cannot wait to see how Matthew is going to proceed with this series after the shockingly brilliant denouement in Little Boy Blue. This is a must-read crime series, and it's one that I recommend to everybody that I can. Don't hesitate to pick it up, and the others in the series if you haven't already.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review. Fully agree with all your comments. I've stuck with DI Helen all the way, and when I read Little Boy Blue I found it chillingly intricate. I thought "These would make great movies" (the genre not really being well produced in movie format), so was not surprised to discover (publisher's reviewer blurb sheet) the BBC are developing "DI Helen Grace" as a series.
    My own review? You've created the best, and left me little else to say. I'll happily post a link to this review in the comments on my own review blog (


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