The Doll’s House – M J Arlidge

This is the third of a crime series featuring Detective Inspector Helen Grace, a female character of some complexity and depth, and for that alone we should be grateful.

In this book, Grace – while battling internal enemies and worrying herself sick about her missing nephew – tackles a serial killer who likes to kidnap and kill young girls. We are given a good insight to the character of the latest victim, and that is some of the strongest writing in the book.

The hunt for clues and the general progress of the police investigation did not come across so well, with some of the writing very much falling into the let me tell you what’s going on here, dear reader mode.┬áThe baddie’s portrayal is a bit lackluster, too.┬áThat having been said, the author does more than enough to build up the tension nicely.

The plot was passable, the pacing – as hinted above – was good, the characters a mixed bunch, and all in all this was an OK book, rather than a great read. I have this suspicion – completely untested – that a quality editor let loose on the manuscript could have really sharpened the impact. As it was, it came across as just another crime book, with only Helen Grace to make it rise above the masses.

I won’t be reading any of the earlier books, but will probably keep an eye open for newer outings to see if things improve.