Author: M. J. Arlidge
Published: June 2, 2015 by New American Library
Genre: Crime Fiction; Thriller
Paperback: 395 pages
My Rating: 4 stars
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This is the first book in the Detective Helen Grace series. It is a classic cop vs. serial killer story. In this case, the serial killer is abducting two people and holding them in a remote location, with only a gun and a single bullet as a means of escape. If they use the one bullet on one of them, the remaining person is set free. Facing starvation, thirst, and surrounded by their own filth, they face a harrowing dilemma where action is necessary before their emaciated bodies lose the strength to decide. It’s a twisted mind game that pits the kidnapping victims against each other. The seemingly randomness of the victims is baffling at first, but that’s part of the mystery to solve.
This is a great escapist read. It was suspenseful, with an easy to follow plot. The chapters are short which kept me turning the pages, and there’s a tough, in control female protagonist. In an interview with the author, he describes his inspiration for the main character, Detective Helen Grace, as being Lisbeth Salander (the protagonist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series). Like Lisbeth, Helen is tough as nails, but with a bit of a rough side. She has a monthly appointment with a dominant in an S&M relationship. Those parts of the book are very brief, so if that puts you off, know that it’s a very small part of the book. But what I loved about this subplot is that it’s told only from the perspective of Jake, her dominant. Never from Helen’s point of view, so as a reader you get this disconnect of “is this really Helen?” I thought it was a clever way to portray it. We get glimpses of why she’s so messed up personally, which I suspect we’ll learn even more as the series continues.
The author combines breakneck speed suspense with a straight forward plot to produce an enjoyable binge-worthy read. There’s nothing deep here – just pure entertainment if you like a dark, twisted suspenseful read. I’m sure I’ll be devouring the rest of the books in this series!