Following on from events in ‘Little Boy Blue’, Helen Grace is in big trouble. Her career is in tatters, her reputation ruined. DS Charlie Brooks is the only person she has left who believes in her and, for Helen, time is definitely running out.
When a young mother is found murdered, Helen finds herself in the unusual position of being on the outside, unable to take part in the investigation and ultimately under suspicion herself. She should stay clear, concentrate on keeping herself safe from some adversaries who would like nothing more than to see Helen in pain or, even better, dead. But despite this, she cannot ignore the call of the investigation, the need to know what happened to the young woman. Helen believes in justice above all else and when someone she is close to also dies, she knows that she cannot sit back and let someone else solve the mystery.
Hindered at every turn, Helen uses all her wits and cunning to complete her own investigation. But just who is killing these women in such a gruesome and personal way? What is their motivation and how many more women are destined to become their victim?
Meanwhile, Charlie faces a race against time to restore Helen’s reputation. She is acting alone, knowing that every move she makes puts her own job, and her relationship, in jeopardy. But Charlie believes in Helen and won’t stop until she has the evidence she needs to make the others sit up and listen.
If you haven’t read the first books in the series – and if not, why not, because that makes absolutely no sense at all – then I suggest you go back and start from book one as each novel in turn informs much of the story within this novel.
Set just a few weeks after the explosive cliff hanger ending of ‘Little Boy Blue’, ‘Hide and Seek’ carries on the story of one person’s revenge against Helen for a perceived wrong in their past. The characterizations are spot on and full of life, from the grizzled and tortured inmates of Holloway prison to the jaded prison guards to try their best to maintain order within the walls.
The story is quite macabre in parts, the murders grotesque, but then I would expect nothing less from this series. Helen’s spirit has not been dulled in anyway, in spite of her circumstances. While the story may not appear to move along at the same break neck speed as the previous novels, there is still no real let up, each scene informing another element of the story. The action is well paced, Arlidge’s short, sharp chapter style driving the reader on with effortless ease. This is especially notable during the latter chapters where they bounce from Helen’s investigations, to the rioting prisoners and over to Charlie as she chases down the last hope to restore Helen’s career. It ramps up the tension, gets the heart racing and the adrenalin pumping, figuratively and literally, and as a reader I found myself on the edge of my seat waiting to see how, or if, Helen would be able to unmask the killer.
Although throughout the story, without the back up and safety of her police credentials Helen is somewhat impotent, she does not back down. Instead she relies upon her natural wits and instinct to keep herself alive and solve the riddle in front of her, giving the story an kind of authenticity, her actions exactly as you would expect from the character. There are so many potential suspects, a prison full of violent women for one matter, but also a number of prison personnel who could have cause or opportunity to commit murder. Suspicion falls from one to another quite swiftly and the identity of the killer is well hidden until the end.
The intertwining of Helen’s story with that of Charlie’s investigation is seamless and as a reader I could feel, and share, Charlie’s frustration at the others’ lack of belief in Helen and the apparent stitch up being perpetrated by more Senior Officers. Emilia Garanita is back, as deliciously devious and vile as ever, delighting in publishing tales of Helen’s misery. She is one of the characters you love to hate and while on the periphery of the story, her present is enough to get the blood boiling. The only saving grace (no pun intended) is that the promise of her own comeuppance comes so tantalisingly close.
I love this series. Helen is strong and independent character, with a clearly defined moral compass. In ‘Hide and Seek’ Helen is more vulnerable than she has ever been before, and yet still fierce and none the less compelling. I only hope that this series runs on for many more books as I can’t get enough.
A fast paced, gripping and deliciously gruesome 5 stars.
My thanks to publishers Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for the advance copy of ‘Hide and Seek’ by MJ Arlidge in exchange for my review.
‘Hide and Seek’ is released on 8th September and is available to buy here: