Review of ‘Eeny Meeny’ by M J Arlidge

Eeny MeenyI listened to the audiobook version of this book. It’s a very compelling crime story which starts with a very interesting and original premise but trails off a little towards the end as it starts to fall into some of the usual crime thriller tropes.

The book starts with the kidnapping of Sam and Amy, who are locked in a disused swimming pool and left with a gun and a mobile phone. They receive a phone call telling them that only one will survive and one must choose to shoot the other in order to gain his or her freedom.

I thought the book was going to follow Sam and Amy’s storyline, but very soon one of them is dead, one has been released and theirs is just the first in a series of similar kidnappings. The book actually follows police detective Helen Grace who is responsible for the police investigation into these crimes.

The book has a strong opening and the description of the plights of the people who are kidnapped is compelling if a little too grisly at times. I particularly did not enjoy the description of two of the victims eating maggots from a head wound, revolting.

However, I did not think the conclusion of the book was as strong as it falls into the trap of a major cliche which I really dislike in crime novels – that of involving the investigating police as victims of the killer and making the killer target the investigating officers. This is such an over-used plot device, I was really disappointed when a book which seemed to have such a fresh idea for a crime descended into such a cliched conclusion.

I also thought that the book had a few unnecessary scenes which I guess were supposed to be ‘titillating’ but which I thought were just cheap shock tactics such as a lesbian sex scene and the scenes where Grace visits an S&M prostitute. Particularly the latter didn’t fit in with the rest of the characterisation of her as a very efficient police officer.

For the most part the audiobook is well read. I was confused by the need to have four narrators when 90% of the book is told in the third person by the same narrator so the other narrators are only used for one or two chapters. I didn’t like the voice of the woman who read Amy’s chapter (she seemed to have a Northern accent, even though she is supposed to be from Southampton), so I was relieved not to have to listen to her much. This is the clip they use on the Audible sample, so don’t let her voice put you off getting this audiobook.

I have the next book in the series ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ from NetGalley and I’m interested to see how that book follows Helen Grace’s character progression.

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