The author, M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specialising in high end drama production. He trained at the BBC, before spending seven years at Ecosse Films, producing series such as “Mistresses”(BBC1) and ‘“Cape Wrath” (C4/Showtime). For the last five years Arlidge has run an independent drama production company, producing a number of crime serials for ITV and is currently working on a major adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” for BBC/FX.
A deranged criminal abducts couples – the victims wake up disorientated and desperate, they’re trapped with no one to hear their screams. They shout and plead, they scramble around, and that’s when they find the gun loaded with one bullet and with it a terrible ultimatum: one of you lives and one of you dies. For the captor, it’s simple: set the scene, play the waiting game and leave them to do the hard work. For the victims, it’s psychological torture.
Helen Grace and her staff at Southampton Central Police Station are up against it. As well as hunting for a complex criminal, they must protect the damaged survivors, the abductor’s living calling cards. More pairs are kidnapped in quick succession: a mother and daughter, two work colleagues, a university couple – but how are they all linked? Helen throws everything at a case that suddenly, terrifyingly, begins to turn full circle…
I’ve talked before about books being unputdownable – the ones you carry around the house with you just in case you might get the chance to read a few more pages. Eeny Meeny really ticked every box for me.
Firstly, there’s the edge of the seat search for a sadistic and very clever serial killer, the following of clues, the attempts of the investigating team to make links – while the abductions, deaths and the impacts on those still living steadily increase. This is a psychological thriller filled with the most appalling cruelty and some really stomach churning scenes.
Then there are the relationships of the investigating team. Detective Inspector Helen Grace is a wonderful creation, having risen quickly through the ranks, a woman making a success of herself in a man’s world, but not without a lot of personal sacrifice and her own way of handling the pressure. Mike is a good policeman, but struggling with drink problems and the consequences of his marriage break up. Charlie is a woman trying to make her mark in the way Helen has, but with her own issues. Add to that mix the complication of personal relationships and a touch of police corruption and this is a really compelling read.
I should say it’s not one for the faint hearted – there’s violence, sadomasochism, the psychological pressure on both the victims and the investigating team that is sometimes unbearable in its intensity. It’s full of those twists, turns and revelations that keep you turning the pages, and the ending is wholly unexpected and totally believable. I’d highly recommend this one to fans of someone like Mo Hayder, even those of Nicci French and Peter James so long as you don’t mind the extra graphic detail. I’m particularly delighted to see that this is the first of a planned series – Pop Goes The Weasel will follow in 2015, and I can’t wait.
My thanks to netgalley and Penguin UK for my advance reading copy. Eeny Meeny will be published by Penguin on 8th May in both Kindle and paperback editions.