A massive happy publication day to M.J. Arlidge. The absolutely brilliant seventh instalment in the Helen Grace Series, Love Me Not, launches today and I cannot wait to share my review with you all. But I will because we need to do the official booky bits first.
The Official Book Blurb
She Loves Me
A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a coldblooded killing. But why would anyone target a much-loved wife and mother?
She Loves Me Not
Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?
She Loves Me
Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking.
She Loves Me Not
If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own …
Oh my life and fluffy ducks and fudgsicals. That, in case you are wondering, is my way of swearing without swearing, enthusiastic approval of the aforementioned tome. Fluff me, if this series doesn’t just keep getting better and better. Yes. This is going to be a positive review. Sorry for that spoiler but best we get it out of the way now to save disappointment later 😉
Now I happened upon this series quite by chance. I was looking for something to read. It was set in Southampton. I have a depot in Southampton which I was about to visit. It fetl like Kismet. Or something. It was pretty fluffing fortuitous if nothing else because by choosing books by depot locations I stumbled upon a cracker of a series, to which this latest book, Love Me Not, is a more than worthy addition.
Different in pacing than the previous Helen Grace books it is set over a period of twenty-four hours. Yes just twenty-four hours in which a killer or killers set out to cause maxium carnage to a range of victims who seem to have little in common and certainly no logical reason to be on anyone’s hit list. So is it a case of random targeting or something more sinister. This is what Helen and her team have to find out.
Now it is hard to say too much about the plotting without dropping in spoilers for previous books which I don’t want to do if you haven’t read any of them. Yes, technically this can be read as a standalone as it is a one off case with no links, victim or perpetrator wise, to previous stories. However there are heavy spoilers regarding the previous two books so at least read Little Boy Blue and Hide and Seek before embarking on this one. But why stop there. Do yourself a favour and read them all. You won’t regret it.
What I will say is that there is an element of tension and mistrust within the team at present which means that they are not as cohesive a unit as they could be. Helen is smarting and resentful towards certain members of the team and this does impact upon them all with very serious repercussions. As for the killers? Well they are not exactly merciless but they certainly have a mission which they will not deviate from but you need to read to understand what that is. It will probably surprise you as you start to realise the truth and you’ll need to keep a very open mind if you think you can call this any earlier than probably 65-70% through the story.
Due to the timeline and structuring of the book, the pacing is fast, probably faster than in previous books even. This is driven on by Arlidge’s consistent use of short, punchy chapters and sparing and yet authentic dialogue. Physical descriptions of both people and setting are strong and really add to the book overall. People may be a little surprised or maybe even upset that many of the things that make Helen well, Helen, are not present in this story but given the timing and what she has been through, how she is portrayed and who she is this time is pitched perfectly in my humble opinion. Perhaps given time we will see more of the old Helen. She is still ably supported by Charlie Brooks, one of the few on her team she still trusts but even this pairing is feeling the strain a little. It adds a layer of conflict that Helen doesn’t really need and keeps things on a knife edge.
I really enjoyed this book. It got me hooked from the very first chapter and I galloped along with the story, eating up page after page until I had finished. Literally a one sitting kind of a book. Started at 19:00 finished at 01:00. There was no way I was walking away from it until I had reached the conclusion. I can’t believe this was book seven. I can’t believe we are going to have to wait forever (well it will feel like it) for the next book in the series. I’m missing Helen already.
A tense, twisted and adrenalin pumping 5 stars from me.
My thanks to the author and publisher Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the advance copy of Love Me Not for review. It is released today and is available to purchase from the following retailers.