Truth or Dare by M.J. Arlidge

I am a huge fan of the Helen Grace series by M.J. Arlidge, so when I heard there was a new book on the horizon, I had to snap it up. My thanks to publisher Orion for the advance copy and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 24 June 2021
Publisher: Orion

About the Book

DO YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME?

A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .

THE BEST BOOK YET FROM THE MASTER OF THE KILLER THRILLER.

My Thoughts

I have loved getting to know the character of DI Helen Grace, and believe me, that is no easy task, not even when her life is laid out in a series of books. She is a woman who who has kept herself protected from others, letting only a select few in, and when you hear her backstory, what happened when she was a child, and consider all of the subsequent events in her life, it’s probably understandable. It’s also something that serves to add a layer of conflict to an already complicated case as the very people she should be able to rely on, her team, are starting to turn against her, and all thanks to a certain DS Joseph Hudson. When it comes to Helen Grace, it’s fair to say that most of her relationships are … complicated.

Speaking of complicated, this case is perhaps one of the most twisted and complicated that Helen has faced yet and that is really saying something. This is not a series known for its straightforward and everyday crimes. Faced with increasing violence across the city, and an ever growing number of unexplained deaths and crimes, Helen and the team are really up against it. Instead of pulling together they are pushing apart from the inside out, and the powers that be aren’t exactly all on Helen’s side either.

The tension and pressure really start to build from early on in this book, both from a personal and investigative point of view, and for once we see a very vulnerable and uncertain Helen, her confidence continually knocked, and her usual determination and fire dimmed. We see the occasional ember of her usual fire, but she is by no means blazing as strongly as we are used to. With Hudson on her back and adding pressure, and her long term nemesis Emilia Garanita taking every opportunity to undermine her performance in the press, it looks as though Helen is slowly starting to fall apart. With Charlie on maternity leave Helen becomes quickly isolated and there are echoes of Little Boy Blue in the way she slowly loses the support of the people around her.

This book contains many shocking twists, although is bolted around a premise that some may recognise. I guessed where the story was leading fairly early on, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book, as it was less about the who and more about the ‘how in the hell will Helen convince anyone else she isn’t going mad’ of the investigation. Her instincts are sound, her ability to persuade others, not so great. There was still room for the odd surprise and the ending left me with a very satisfied smile, knowing that this isn’t really over yet. Helen Grace has the ability to cultivate enemies like some people grow flowers in their garden, and this adds jeopardy and suspense to the story.

Pacing is spot on as always, with short sharp chapters and the odd cliffhanger moment where all seems lost. This is a book where the why may confound you far longer than the who, but the journey to uncover it all is exhilarating and well worth it. With double crossing, backstabbing and subterfuge rife, suspicious characters littered throughout the book, and MJ Arlidge’s cunning ability to misdirect even the keenest eye, this is bound to be another hit amongst fans of the series. It’s left me hungry for more and hoping we don’t have to wait long to find out what fresh hell Helen will be facing next.

About the Author

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specialising in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent WitnessTornThe Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014 and has been followed by 8 more DI Helen Grace bestsellers.

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