Review: Pop Goes The Weasel; M.J. Arlidge

A strong follow up to ‘Eeny Meeny…’ (4 stars)

Source-review copy

Published by Penguin UK- 11th September 2014

I read the Kindle edition. The paperback is 432 pages.

I really enjoyed the first book from M.J. Arlidge last year- a fast-paced serial-killer thriller set in Southampton and introducing Detective Inspector Helen Grace and her colleagues. It was something of a rollercoaster ride, introducing some fresh new characters, believable settings and had a heck of an ending! So, for me, acquiring the second book in the series was a must. I was keen to get to know more about Helen herself and catch up with her life since events in the first book.

Happily, the second book is also a gripping read. It’s pretty gory though, so definitely not for the faint-hearted: be warned! It picks up a while after book one ends, though I think at this early stage in the series can also be read as a standalone novel easily as enough background is given to the reader to bring them up to speed on happenings in book one.

After the mutilated body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red-light-district with his heart removed, DI Helen Grace and her colleagues are on high alert. When the man’s heart is couriered to his deceased’s wife and children a mere few hours later however, the Southampton Police have to question who on earth would do something so horrific and most importantly why.

Soon afterwards a second victim is found and a terrible pattern soon emerges. The media dub it a Jack the Ripper killing in reverse and Grace realises that she needs to stop this serial killer, before they can claim any more victims…

Fast-paced and dramatic, I quickly became absorbed in this tense story, questioning the brutal senselessness involved in the kinds of crimes depicted and who on earth could be capable of committing something so atrocious. It also offered an interesting insight into the politics/dynamics of the police force as well as exploring the seedier, more squalid side of Southampton- a place that like a lot of British cities has a much darker underbelly.

Helen is a really interesting character. We are getting to know more about her as a person and it is clear the effects from book one are still having a lingering impact on her and also a knock-on effect on her career.  She has a new boss and they constantly come into conflict with one another throughout the course of the story; I found myself too questioning the politics between them and whether Helen’s other colleagues as well, were in fact all they seemed to be. There are a few cliché characters too- including the stereotypical slimy journalist, but I took them with a pinch of salt.

Generally, aside from the absolutely terrible Netgalley formatting (which is often the case) and the slightly abrupt ending, this was an intriguing, albeit gruesome read that offered a lot of depth! I really can’t wait for the next book in the series- and will definitely be checking it out.

*Recommended for fans of Val McDermid or Peter James*


3 responses to “Review: Pop Goes The Weasel; M.J. Arlidge

  1. When you say really gory, how bad is it? I’ve seen lots about the two books but never sure if it’s not going to be my thing because it’s over the top, or exactly my thing because it really grips you.

    • Hi! Well, I have to admit I might be on the more ‘squeamish’ side than most people as I’m a bit of a wimp! To be fair though, it doesn’t seem to be over the top compared to some serial killer books I have encountered and the descriptions of the violence and murder scenes are definitely appropriate according to the story. I have found both of these books really compelling and haven’t been put off from reading more by M.J. Arlidge in future, despite them- if that helps!

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