Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge (DI Helen Grace, #4) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

Whoever did this was intent on creating death and destruction on a scale Helen had never seen before.

It was as if they wanted to raze Southampton to the ground...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 442
Chapters: 143
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Facebook


DI Helen Grace is back in another fiery instalment to M.J. Arlidge's crime/thriller series!

One thing becoming abundantly clear as we progress, is that, Mr Arlidge cannot disappoint. Liar Liar has a unique and compelling story that twists, turns and does its best to lose you in confusion only to sneak back around to shock you with some emotional revelations. There's a blend within this novel that's hard not to love: A red hot thriller with complex characters and the potential to rival the crime genre's greatest.


Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Southampton is ablaze.
Three fires set within minutes of each other clog the night with smoke.
The city is shocked to their core, but DI Helen Grace feels it more than most.
It's her job to work the mystery and bring in the firestarter.
But there's an anger and ferociousness to the crime that has Helen reeling.
Can she catch the evil haunting the streets?
Or will his fires consume all, leaving them free to vanish in the smoke...?

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

Liar Liar starts off with a fiery, adrenaline-filled horror that sets up the novel's tone to perfection. From there it's a fast-paced ride that revels in the severity and shock the events that take place convey. Not only that, but Arlidge's plethora of character viewpoints does a phenomenal job of painting a full and vibrant world of emotion. Actions have consequences, and we see the core of both.

The picture of pain compliments the escalating tension of a determined and vindictive serial killer. The ramifications of death and destruction are looked at from a human perspective rather than a criminal one. And when the revelations start, they really hit home. The concluding events that reveal to the reader the broader story manage to conflict and delight. The actions of the 'big bad' are completely reprehensible, but there's a level of understanding and sympathy that you can't help but feel.

There are points where the story teeters on the edge of convolution, threatening to throw everything into utter confusion. Thankfully, the author does an admirable job of tying the many threads together, and tightening them to make for as few loose ends as possible.

The final two pages with Helen's superior show a chilling future lies in wait.

If anything, Liar Liar will have you racing to make sure your fire alarms are operational. 

Pace - 5/5 Stars

Arlidge keeps the action and flow throttling forward. The succession of fires taking place one night after another really brings the novel to a higher place. The reader can't catch a breath, much like the cast within. 

Characters - 4/5 Stars

Arlidge's cast is extensive, but not all characters get the spotlight. This isn't a problem, it's another one of those times that everyone fits their respective roles perfectly. Those in the background, and those in the foreground.

In Liar Liar's case, Helen and Charlie, along with the 'big bad', are the ones who shine brightest.

I can't fault the 'villain', the story and circumstances surrounding these aspects of the plot are well-built. The motivations and goals are clear and concise while extracting an edge of sympathy from the reader. If you're wondering about the quotation marks, you'll understand once you've read the book. I don't want to give too much away.

Helen and Charlie, however, are a mixed bag. I love them still, both successful and competent women, but the majority of this entry focuses on elements that have been beaten to death. Helen: Still haunted and running from her past and dealing with her present vices; Charlie: Still contemplating whether or not she should leave police work.

I do love the conclusion though, where the two ladies seem to help remedy these issues by growing closer together. Helen's ferocity and Charlie's loyalty give them both a thumbs up from me. 

There's a little discrepancy with Sanderson, whose rank jumps from a DI to DS at varying points in the story. And the addition of Gardam, and his obsession with Helen, precludes to a future you will not want to miss.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

A few oddly structured sentences, but overall a smooth, well-written work.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

When's the next entry out?

Previous Instalment: The Doll's House
Next Instalment: Little Boy Blue

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