Reviewer Ekta Garg: Ekta has actively written and edited since 2005 for publications like: The Portland Physician Scribe; the Portland Home Builders Association home show magazines; ABCDlady; and The Bollywood Ticket. With an MSJ in magazine publishing from Northwestern University Ekta also maintains The Write Edge- a professional blog for her writing. In addition to her writing and editing, Ekta maintains her position as a “domestic engineer”—housewife—and enjoys being a mother to two beautiful kids.
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: New American Library
A detective in Southampton, Great Britain, must follow the track of a serial murderer while trying to figure out the murderer’s motives. The victims have no connection to one another—at least, not at first. When the detective starts to figure out what the murderer wants to achieve, she must move fast before the murderer comes for her. British author M.J. Arlidge offers readers a fast-paced thriller in Eeny Meeny, the first novel of the Helen Grace series.
Detective Helen Grace receives word of a new crime by way of a victim who escaped, and the details are gruesome. A murderer kidnapped two people and left them with nothing except a gun and a cell phone that contains a pre-recorded message. A strange voice dictates the terms for release. The two victims must make a decision and use the gun so that one dies. When that person dies, the other gets to walk away.
The two kidnapping victims thought they would survive, but with no one coming forward to offer any information or even threats and no food or water the victims soon succumb to their circumstances. At some point one of them makes a choice, and Helen Grace must now find the kidnapper. As she and her team set out with the minimal amount of information, the kidnapper strikes again—and all of a sudden Helen Grace finds herself tracking a serial criminal.
Grace and the others can’t seem to make sense of the criminal’s choices, though. While most serial murderers choose victims who share a trait, these victims don’t seem to have any common factors. The ages and social standings vary wildly, and none of them seemed to know one another. Why would the murderer target these people?
Little by little Grace puts the pieces together, and she comes to a horrifying conclusion: the victims have connections to her. But why would someone target people she knows? And why these people? As the kidnapper starts choosing victims Grace knows well, the detective realizes she needs to work faster if she wants to save herself.
Author M.J. Arlidge hits all the right notes for a thriller, keeping his readers on edge throughout the entire book. The identity of the murderer will surprise many, and the murderer’s motivation will also catch people off guard. In a refreshing departure from some thrillers, Arlidge keeps the criminal’s hands fairly clean. The grisly elements of the crimes come from the victims themselves and their desperation.
Unlike some male authors, Arlidge handles his female protagonist with a great deal of gentleness. He allows Grace to be a woman when she needs to be a woman but also balances that femininity with the strength she needs as a police detective. That strength makes Grace’s vulnerabilities all the more troubling.
Because Eeny Meeny serves as Grace’s to readers for the entire series, Arlidge allows a few glimpses into her personal life but doesn’t dwell on those moments for too long. The result reveals a deft touch by Arlidge and will keep readers coming back for more.
Even with somewhat graphic moments that might make readers wince, I recommend readers bookmark Eeny Meeny.