By M. J. Arlidge Eeny Meeny: Di Helen Grace 1 [Paperback] - M.J. Arlidge

DI Helen Grace is, in my opinion, not mentally fit to hold a senior rank in any police force. Due to a difficult childhood (which unfolds as the story progresses) she needs to punish herself, to feel hurt, to cleanse herself and wipe out painful memories. With this in mind she is a client to Jake the local S & M guru, but not only is this a regular past time (not passing judgement here) she wants, needs begs him to really hurt her...is this someone fit to carry the duties of a Detective Inspector?... has some incident in the past created this lonely woman?  This is one lady living on the edge and deserves instant suspension....."Helen cried out in pain and looked down to see her fingernails dug into her palm. She had drawn blood in her frustration and anger"...."she fought the urge, digging her nails into her wounded hand. The pain flowed through her calming her"....

 

The plot in this crime story is frankly absurd. A serial killer is kidnapping two helpless individuals and hiding/locking them in a safe and impossible to find location. A gun is the only other item present and the incarcerated are faced with an impossible conundrum...kill or be killed. The person who remains is permitted to go free, and one such example is the second kidnapping...... Ben and Peter are attending a meeting in Bournemouth and returning home the car apparently develops a mechanical fault somewhere in the New Forest. With no mobile phone reception, and therefore little hope of rescue, they are surprised and but relieved when a van approaches...is this rescue or something more sinister? So how did the killer know that the car would break down at this particular desolate junction? Apparently he had hammered a large nail into the petrol tank and calculated exactly where the vehicle would come to rest and he could then resume his dastardly deed. Ben had ensured that the car was full of fuel before departing Bournemouth and the author assures us that once the car is fueled the driver or indeed any driver would fail to look at the display directly in front of him and therefore not notice the plummeting fuel gauge. What a ridiculous assumption, indeed if we accept that this could quite easily happen surely the killer must have known that there was a great possibility that Ben would see the plummeting fuel gauge and therefore stop immediately.

 

There is a point in the story where DI Helen Grace is convinced there is someone within her group who is feeding and leaking information to the press. So without proper evidence she accuses Charlie and Mark, both experience detectives, (although Mark is on the verge of becoming an alcoholic.. another clichéd policeman) of being the source of that leak. This is an atrocious way for a senior officer to treat her staff...accusations based on assumptions. By carrying out such a callous act Grace is splitting the team apart and lowering morale....would a senior boss really do this? I think not....

 

So with a questionable plot and a dysfunctional cast of characters....are there any redeeming features? The last quarter of the book does contain a few surprises and rather than abandon the story it kept me reading until the end, with a conclusion that leads the reader quite naturally forward to the next story in the series....but I for one shall not partake and can only hope that DI Helen Grace receives the medical help she so obviously needs!