6 June 2017

Review #612: The Doll's House (Helen Grace, #3) by M.J. Arlidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“If I want to get out of here, I have to be the one to save myself.”

----Cheryl Rainfield

M.J. Arlidge, the bestselling English author, has penned an engrossing and chilling thriller in his DI Helen Grace series, The Doll's House that is the third book in the series. This story opens with a young woman's abduction in a cold cellar with a cold captor, whereas on the other hand, one body of a young woman who looks very similar to the abducted girl has been discovered and the infamous detective Helen has reached the spot, only to find stark connection with the abducted girl's case, little did she knew that besides hunting for a serial killer, her job as a detective in he force would turn out to be so challenging.


A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.

Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing - her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it's chilling evidence that she's searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful - a predator who's killed before.

And as Helen struggles to understand the killer's motivation, she begins to realize that she's in a desperate race against time.

A young woman named Ruby, with a messed up social life, disappears out-of-the-blue, and little did Ruby knew that her getting point drunk would cost her life so dearly and that she would become a captive in a cold dark cellar only to be fed and clothed by her crazy captor. But she must escape from this psychopath who keeps calling her Summer. Helen Grace and her team has arrived on the beach where the body of a young woman has been discovered and clearly the body shows signs of starvation. Although Helen's department is reluctant to see a connection between Ruby's abduction and the body of an unidentified young woman, even though both the victims have uncanny resemblance in their outlook. Despite of her department's challenges, her bonding with her new boss and fighting off the ghosts from her past, Helen must find out where Ruby is before the body count begins increasing.

So as promised, I'm finally picking up the previous books by this author and trust me, this series needs to be read in a proper order, otherwise, the readers like me, who are reading the series in a disorderly fashion, might fail to get a clear portrait as well as perspective of such an excellent protagonist that crime fiction rarely ever produce. Helen is one such character who will intrigue as well as make the readers feel sympathy towards her. And hats off to this brilliant author to craft out such a hero like Helen. Helen's complexity just like the plot's multiple layers will keep the readers on their edges till the very last page.

The author's writing style is absolutely eloquent, laced with tight suspense and gripping tension. The narrative is highly engaging enough to keep the readers glued till the turn of the very last page. This fast-paced, spellbinding pot-boiler plot is easy to comprehend to from the readers' perspective, or I can say that the the readers will blend well with the course of the story. The author explains everything in this book so expressively that it is bound to make the readers feel like they are watching this whole intriguing story right before their own eyes.

The mystery is tightly wrapped under thousands of layers of twists and turns that are unraveled gradually by the author. The plot is so addictive as well as unpredictable that the readers will be anticipating to learn about the identity of the killer like a moth looking for a ray of light in the darkness. The author has depicted the story line strikingly by featuring adrenaline rushing action scenes and frightening events and scenes that will make the readers turn the pages of the book frantically despite of the vivid horror and raw violence.

The primary character, Helen Grace who is the protagonist of Arlidge's books, is highly well developed with her flaws, shortcomings, complexities and her emotions. Yes she is bound to make the readers hungry for action and no-nonsense drama, trust me, she is areal hero, who will take on any challenge thrown her way in a headstrong fashion. The author projects her so strongly into the story that it feels like she is getting inside the heads of the readers messing with it, in short, she will have that psychological grip upon the readers' minds. One of the other characters, Ruby, is another flawlessly projected woman, who too plays with the readers' minds by reflecting the horrifying days in captivity, that will force the readers to feel like something worse is going to happen right after the turn of this page.

In a nutshell, this a must read page-turner that is captivating and highly riveting from the very first page till the very end that climaxes with an unnerving cliffhanger and to know that, readers must pick up the next book in this crime fiction series.

Verdict: A creepy and chilling thriller that needs to be savored slowly and gradually.

Author Info:
M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specializing in high end drama production. Arlidge has produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV In the last five years, and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.
Visit him here

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