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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pop Goes the Weasel -- M.J. Arlidge
NAL Publishing
418 pages

Back in October 2015, I wrote a review by a new author, introducing DI Helen Grace. That first book, Eeny Meeny, won great praises by this reviewer. I sincerely hoped that a series featuring Grace would follow. A few, short months later, M.J. Arlidge has returned with that follow-up, Pop Goes the Weasel.

DI Helen Grace has returned after the case that saw her sister as the serial murderer. Despite her proclaimed innocence, other members of the force are wary around her. Helen continues to have a difficult time relating to other people in her circles, especially her new boss, Cheri Harwood, as well as her old friend, Charlie Brooks.

When the body of a man is discovered in an abandoned house, Grace immediately realizes that this murder is not just a one-off deal. She believes that this is only the first in a series of possible killings. Harwood thinks Grace is overreacting and pulls her from the case. Meanwhile, the bodies start to pile up. Can Helen Grace convince her fellow police officers of the severity of the crime before more become victims?

What is it about Pop Goes the Weasel that will keep a reader turning the pages? Think of the Jack the Ripper story brought into modern day, and twisted into a new story. The story told today is that of a prostitute taking out her customers in revenge for her lot in life. Her killings are just as gruesome as the original Whitechapel murders.

M.J. Arlidge writes deeply flawed characters. Helen Grace has secrets in her life that combine to determine the course of her life. When confronted with her inner demons, will she make the right choice or succumb to the darkness? Her inability to kowtow to her superiors leads to constant friction, and may ultimately lead to her dismissal.

Arlidge takes the readers on a journey into the dark and filthy underbelly of the city. There is a fine line drawn between the sordid mess of that underbelly and the investigation that ultimately leads to the identification of the murderer. Sometimes you have to fall into the mind of the criminal in order to catch the criminal.

In the end, there is just as much conflict in the ending as there was at the beginning. The difference in opinion between Grace and her supervisor is not settled, although there is a shaky truce upon Grace’s unveiling of the murderer. While she will still have a job on the police force at the beginning of the third book of the series, the foundation is crumbling, possibly beyond any chance of repair.

The reader will continue to turn the pages as much as for the solution of the crime as to find out what happens to Grace. There is an investment with the characters that will keep the readers of this book series coming back for more.  The twists and turns in the plot are captivating.

Just as I finished this book, I learned that M.J. Arlidge has just released book number 3 in the Helen Grace series, The Doll’s House. I have enjoyed the first two books of this series so immensely, that this newest book will be in my grubby little paws as soon as I find it at the library. If you like great thrillers, Pop Goes the Weasel is an excellent choice.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When Craig Bacon sits down to read a good book, he just kills it. Follow him on Twitter at @hippieboy73, or send him a message at

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