Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge (DI Helen Grace, #1) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

One lives and one dies. No choice.


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 421
Chapters: 117
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Facebook


Eeny Meeny is a dark, gritty and certifiably twisted story, so in other words, it's fantastic. Getting into the story it teaches the reader that hope can be worse than fear and despair. Usually we're told that if you scratch the surface, you'll always find hope, but Mr Arlidge tells us that if you scratch the surface, there's usually just more surface. I always get that feeling after a book like this one. I know I enjoyed it, but you're left with a dark cloud hovering over you and it really makes you think about all the bad things in life. In ways, that's horrible, but it shines a light on how precious hope and the good things in life are. I definitely recommend this to anyone who can stomach dark thrillers, because this is one of the best I've read in a long time.

I feel like I should read something bright and cheerful. It's like watching a horror film and wanting to watch a comedy afterwards.

We start off with a short and chilling chapter from the perspective of a young woman who, along with her boyfriend, has been abducted and put in some dark, dank place, completely stranded from the rest of civilisation. Completely confused and terrified, they find a phone and a gun in the space between them, and after a bit, someone calls the phone and delivers a deadly ultimatum to the couple:

'On the floor by the phone you'll find a gun. It has one bullet in it. For Sam or for yourself. That is the price of your freedom. You must kill to live. Do you want to live, Amy?'

Enter Detective Inspector Helen Grace of the Southampton police force. She's battled countless demons and is haunted by a dark past, but she knows as sure as the sun rises that, unless she stops this sick individual, more people will die...
The premise itself for Eeny Meeny is truly spine tingling. I instantly scooped up the book as soon as I read it, and upon completion, I know I made the right choice. The story is completely enthralling from start to finish, so chilling and cold that you can't help but crave answers to the onslaught of terrifying questions. It's well-paced and the story is one of the best-plotted ones I've had the pleasure to make my way through.

The characters too are amazing. All of them are so well built and fleshed out that you almost instantly connect with them. Especially with their progressions through the novel, the way these sick and twisted events warp them into a different person, but how that small glimmer of hope never ceases to exist, even with all the darkness they're faced with. DI Grace, our - only slightly - main character, is full of intrigue, her history is shrouded in mystery, and you crave to find out more. The author's characters extract both sympathy and fierce determination to see them conquer their enemy from you. It's a roller coaster.

I think the way the book is structured is what has put a few people off from the other reviews I've read. The book interweaves an abundance of character point-of-views, all in third person. There's also a strange origin story in first person dotted around the book that you only really understand at the end. For me, it's completely mesmerising, but I can see how it could hamper other people's immersion in the novel. All in all though the book is one ride away from giving me heart palpitations.

I even found out that this debut novel is from a writer who is extremely experienced with stories, having been a longtime writer for ITV (a British channel) and a lot of crime/police procedural shows. I'm glad I only found all that out after I'd finished the book, I always love reading something without hype or expectations, it makes the surprise just that more sweeter. I even learned this is the start of a series, which is brilliant.

I cannot wait for the sequel.

Previous Instalment: Running Blind
Next Instalment: Pop Goes The Weasel

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