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Arlidge, M J - 'Pop Goes the Weasel'
Paperback: 432 pages (Sep. 2014) Publisher: Penguin ISBN: 1405914955

POP GOES THE WEASEL is the follow up novel to EENY MEENY, and features DI Helen Grace once again, and it is set in Southampton. I haven't read EENY MEENY, however there are plenty of references to the plot of the previous book in this one, which help to set the background somewhat to Helen Grace's character and in particular her relationship with her team. In fact, one might argue that there were too many follow up stories in this one, which detracted somewhat from the plotline of the current book.

As with the previous book (apparently), this one also features a serial killer. Unusually, it seems to be a woman, someone who, in the opening pages of the novel, lures a man to his death. She takes the part of a prostitute and the man is her client. But during their encounter, somehow she overcomes him, and he wakes up naked, tied to a bed, and powerless to escape his inevitable and rather gruesome fate. More murders follow, and DI Grace is tasked with investigating. In addition, she has to somehow overcome an uneasy relationship with the returning DC Charlie Fuller, someone with whom Helen has ‘issues' as a result of an event in the previous book. She also has a new Detective Superintendent (Ceri Harwood) to contend with, who has quite different opinions on policing to her former DS, and the usual difficult relationship with a local journalist, Emilia Garanita.

Helen is an interesting character, strong (but sometimes only on the surface), and determined, but only partially likeable. She rides a motorbike, and she keeps a secret watch on a teenage boy with whom she seems to have some sort of distant relationship (again related to the earlier book). But the most bizarre thing about her is that she makes clandestine visits to someone called Jake, who whips her with a riding crop, as a way of relaxing. I really found this completely odd and bizarre, not very believable, and rather pointless. Yes, make the heroine distinctive, but why build in such odd behaviour? Helen is not the greatest team-builder in the world, and they only make quite slow progress on the murders, until eventually there is the threat that she will be taken off the case. Whereupon she puts in an all-nighter on her own, to make the final breakthrough. The final plot twists are both interesting and frustrating at the same time. A reasonably good tale, but a bit too over-dramatic for my liking overall.

Michelle Peckham, England
September 2014

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 14/09/2014 09:14