Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Eeny Meeny, by M. J. Arlidge

Eeny Meeny

Author:            M. J. Arlidge
Publisher:        NAL (sold by Penguin Group)
Format:           E-file, 422 pages
List Price:        $ 7.99 E-file  
                        $10.78 Paperback
                        $33.99 Hardcover

Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense....

ARC provided by NetGalley

Doreen’s Thoughts: 

M. J. Arlidge has written a fast-paced thriller that centers on a damaged Detective Helen Grace chasing a new kind of serial killer.  For the majority of the story, we see only glimpses of the damage that was done either to her or to the killer; it is never quite clear.  Typically in this kind of procedural, the main character is a police officer who drinks or does drugs to reflect their impairment.  Here, Arlidge has come up with a unique way to demonstrate Helen’s self-destruction; however, her quirk, as it were, was far more intense that I expected. 

In addition, the killer proves very creative.  The manner of death is probably one of the most unique twists I have read in a long time.  Two people, left alone to die of starvation and thirst, are given a choice – a gun with one bullet.  Do they vote on who should die?  Does one simply overpower the other to survive?  Or will one actually sacrifice themselves for the good of the other?  It certainly demonstrates the character of people at their absolute worst. 

The killer remains elusive throughout most of the novel.  About halfway through the tale, the reader may suddenly suspect one character or another, but the truth is more startling and surprising than I imagined.  In some ways, the killer reveal almost let me down.  The background that created the killer, and in some ways Helen herself, does lend itself to creating a murderer, but I had some small sense of sympathy for the antagonist by the end.  I suspect that was not the emotion that Arlidge wanted to create. 

Overall, Helen is a deeply flawed, deeply sympathetic character who has spent most of her life berating herself for crimes she did not commit and dedicating her life to hunting down those who do commit the most heinous crime of all – murder.  Eeny Meeny is the start of a thriller series centered on Helen, and I am curious about the next killer she must apprehend.  That in itself is a good achievement for a first novel. 

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