Life is never truly stable and normal for Detective Inspector Helen Grace, she has a reputation for solving difficult cases but that has come at a cost. The barriers she has built around her personal life make her an enigma to her colleagues, and non so much as her new Detective Superintendent Jonathan Gardam who seems to be hovering in the background watching Helen's every move. The lead up to Christmas should be a quiet time for the Police, but in reality the holidays always bring out the worst in people, with a spike in domestic violence, and the Major Incident Team is about to be tested by a coldly calculating arsonist who will stretch everyone's resources to the limit.
It starts with a single fire, then a second, and then a third - all on the same night and designed to wreck maximum havoc. The fires are devastating in terms of financial cost, but the last fire of the night has a more personal cost when two victims are pulled from the burning house barely alive. Unbelievably the next day the arsonist strikes again and another three properties become raging infernos, with no apparent connection between them. Someone is stalking the streets with the tools for arson, and a plan to wreck havoc. The very nature of the crime means there is very little forensics for Helen and her team to use to solve the crime, and as they already know the public is not a patient beast, and there are journalists who are willing to crucify Helen and her team if it will benefit their own careers.
Liar liar is the fourth book in what is proving to be an incredibly addictive series that has set a new benchmark in thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat - and guessing what will happen next. Arlidge's background in writing for television appears to have created a writing style that is bold and bare, giving you enough information to create a vivid image in your mind without burying you under inconsequential details. It is a race against time to try and uncover the true story before Arlidge delivers the answer in a swift stroke of "oh my god" when you finally untangle the half truths and secrets that make this particular book in the series even more twisted than the previous books in the series. Arlidge has a real knack for writing intriguing storylines, and it is a shame that he can only write so fast because it seems like torture waiting for the next book to see what happens next.
Each of the DI Helen Grace thrillers have a slightly different focus and style, and it was interesting to have the rapidly switching points of view and short chapters - again this is probably a result of Arlidge's work in television, but it also reflects a trend in crime publishing as more authors appear to cut back to the bones of the story and leave their readers to visualise their own story. I find it refreshing, and this is one of the only British crime series I have been fully able to sink my reading teeth into because other authors seem to focus too much on laying out the character and the world - I can build my own visuals in my mind, I get bored when there is too much detail. Arlidge has the perfect balance, a skill authors like James Patterson also possess, but fortunately more and more authors are discovering that more is less.
An amazing series that is almost impossible to put down and that will leave you wondering what could possibly happen next for Helen and her team.
If you like this book then try:
- Pop goes the weasel by M.J. Arlidge
- Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
- The doll's house by M.J. Arlidge
- The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
- One step too far by Tina Seskis
- The basement by Stephen Leather
- Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski
- Now you see her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
- Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
- The slaughter man by Tony Parsons
- The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
- The survivors club by Lisa Gardner
- Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
- Kill switch by Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene
- The edge of normal by Carla Norton
- City of fear by Alafair Burke
Reviewed by Brilla