Review of ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ by MJ Arlidge

Pop goes the weaselThanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the ARC of this book.

I read ‘Eeny Meeny’, the first in this series, last year and was intrigued to find out how the author would continue the series, as the storyline and crime in the first book were very personal to the main detective, Helen Grace.

Having read ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’, I think it would have been better if the author had left ‘Eeny Meeny’ as a stand alone book. i really don’t think Helen Grace is interesting or sympathetic enough to warrant a series, and a lot of the time I really dislike the choices she makes. For example, after hearing a witness provide her with a statement about child abuse, rather than returning to the police station to write up this evidence, she visits her dominator to be whipped in order to regain control and release stress; this really doesn’t ring true. I would imagine that a woman who spends her working life investigating horrible sexual crimes, prostitution and murder would choose to stay as far away from these things as possible in her personal life.

I really dislike the way this series focuses on a revels in details of sexual violence, particularly towards women. I feel like the author describes these things in an unnecessary gratuitous fashion to give people vicarious pleasure rather than for the sake of a really great narrative. The portrayal of the vulnerability of women is quite disturbing. Even though the murderers are women, they have been pushed into their crimes as a result of the horrible violence they have suffered and are therefore victims rather than empowered. Even the heroine Helen Grace has suffered sexual assault in the past.

I really hope Southampton doesn’t really have the horrible dark underbelly of prostitution and violence depicted in these books; they have an unrelentingly pessimistic view of the world. I hope that in future books in this series, Arlidge chooses to focus on different types of crime and murder, because the current focus on gratuitous violence and sexual crimes is really unpleasant to read.

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