My Review of "Little Boy Blue" by M J Arlidge

Little Boy Blue (Helen Grace, #5)
DI Helen Grace is no stranger to tragedy but when a body is found in a Southampton nightclub, the death cuts too close to the bone. Hiding her personal connection to the victim -and a double life which must remain hidden at all costs - Helen becomes a woman possessed, working her team around the clock to follow every lead........

This is actually the 5th book in the DI Helen Grace series and I'm ashamed to say that I have only actually read the first one "Eeny Meeny" - although this is something I will be rectifying having enjoyed this crime thriller! However, it doesn't matter if this is your first, third or fifth outing with DI Grace -enough background information is conveyed so that the reader has all the information they need in order to fully follow the plot and relate to the main characters.

I was quite shocked at how quickly I was thrown into the action - I literally did not have time to finish the first sentence before events had started unfurling. And there's no holding back; this is not for the faint hearted! This is a story set in the underground scene of S&M and there is some graphic detail and portrayals within the opening pages and throughout the novel. But what was really captivating was the anonymous voice and their menacing statements: "Would they get it? Would they realise what they were dealing with? Only time would tell." That's some opening!

Helen Grace is an interesting character. She is flawed. She physically pushes herself. She is gutsy, determined and solitary. She has a past. In this book, her personal and professional life become intricately mixed up with each other and the "threat of exposure is as great as the threat of a serial killer." Arlidge has achieved a highly original, convention busting yet very convincing character to whom the reader is drawn and for who they feel empathy and admiration. I was impressed with this. I also found the concept of the detective being as embroiled with the underworld as the perpetrator interesting and a rather different angle than the usual plot lines.

All the characters in this detective fiction novel are flawed, full of hidden pasts and dark secrets. There is quite a large cast of people - police, officials, criminals, victims and suspects - all damaged, all potentially capable of committing a crime. No one is who they say they are. Arlidge ensures that we will be kept guessing right up to the last minute. Although there are many of them, all the characters are well crafted and credible and the dialogue is convincing and authentic. The number of different characters makes the book move along at a good pace and maintains the reader's interest as the view point switches quickly, laying clues, hints, intrigue and suspense in every paragraph. I found it a very quick read and was pulled along by the narrative.

I can't say much else without spoiling it for you but here's a great quote from the book which I think will tempt you!
In the time it takes for the sun to rise and set again, secrets have been revealed, accusations made and a families happiness shattered......

All I will say is that the ending was absolutely thrilling and the best part of the whole novel. I was completely thrown and shocked - I desperately kept trying to turn the page as I could not believe this was how it ended! Now I will have to continue with Book 6! Let's hope it's not too long to wait!

I recommend this book to all fans of crime fiction and lovers of detective fiction. I would also encourage anyone else to try it as to a certain extent, it redefines our expectations of what makes a good detective character.

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

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