Detective Helen Grace and team are back in this follow up to Eeny Meeny.
WARNING if you have not read Eeny Meeny there are SPOILERS BELOW!
After killing her sister to stop a heinous series of murders, Helen Grace was - fortunately - allowed to keep her job, but things have been tense. Now, with a new Detective Superintendent in charge and Charlie returning to the job, Grace is on edge.
And then another killer strikes.
Two men seemingly on the prowl for prostitutes have been brutally murdered, their hearts removed. In the first case, a churchgoing man whose wife claimed he was volunteering, the heart was delivered to his family. In the second, a new father, it was his coworkers who received the heart. In both cases, evidence seems to suggest it was a sex worker who killed the men. But what was the motive and when will the killings stop?
Meanwhile, Charlie Brooks is investigating the possibly connected death of a high-end sex worker whose body was found in the trunk of a car. Her own investigation leads to a tenuous link to Helen Grace's case but it's not solid enough for a conviction of any kind. Yet.
As was the case with Eeny Meeny, Arlidge again leads readers through a twisty turny mystery that has to stem from the darkest corners of the imagination.
The case is compelling and dark - a reverse Jack the Ripper of sorts (or at least that's what the media is calling it) with a prostitute hunting and butchering johns. Even Helen Grace has to admit that the killer is clever, which makes the case that much more difficult to solve. When you add the stress she's under dealing with the new DS - who doesn't quite seem to be on the same page as Grace - and Charlie's return, you can clearly see that our lead is in a bit of a pickle. But that doesn't keep her from doing her job to the best of her ability.
I love that the characters have continued to grow in this follow up to Eeny Meeny. The focus is split between the case(s) and the characters, and Arlidge balances the two quite well. None of the personal information hampers the pace of the story nor does the case itself overshadow the development of these characters we've gotten to know and appreciate through two books now.
And there's more in store. Arlidge's third and fourth Helen Grace titles are out in the UK already. Book 3, The Doll's House, is due out here in the US in February 2016.
If dark and twisted is what you're looking for, Arlidge is a great choice. I'd compare him to Elizabeth Haynes in terms of content and tone and Jeffrey Deaver in terms of pacing and the can't-put-it-down quality. I would suggest reading these in order.