Liar, Liar by M.J. Arlidge

Liar, Liar is a U.K. crime thriller and the fourth novel in the D.I. Helen Grace series by Matthew “M.J.” Arlidge. I’ve thoroughly (synonym for absolutely, since I say that too often) enjoyed each and every novel in this series. I must admit, thus far, my favorite thing about this novel is the title. I find it profoundly clever due to the main theme of the plot. (Liar, liar pants on fire!)


*Spoiler Alert: a few spoilers may lay ahead! Read with caution...


D.I. Helen Grace is a tough loner with a secret fetish outside of work that makes her fantastically unique: she’s into S&M, but strictly for the physical punishment rather than the sexual aspect. At first, I was completely thrown by this tidbit; I thought it was a bit much. But the more I’ve gotten to know Helen Grace, the more it’s made sense. She’s a glutton for punishment, and without any family and very few friends to speak of, she seeks out release in this manner. This unusual activity leads to an unfortunate situation for D.I. Grace. She ends up finding herself on the wrong side of the law when she attacks the man, Max Paine, that she’s paid to render her his services. Because I’m currently reading this novel, I don’t yet know what happens, but due to a bit of foreshadowing, it’s not looking good for Helen.


Her foe, crime reporter Emilia Garanita, has written a trash piece of D.I. Grace with the narrative provided by a disgruntled fire chief. It seems that with these two events, Helen Grace is soon to be facing trouble in her career and personal life. I’m eager to find out what happens next.


Specific to this book, there’s a hooded figure running around Southampton setting fires to various buildings. So far, three nights in a row, this person has set three fires each night: one fire to a residential building (someone’s home) and two fires to relatively small businesses. As the story goes on, it’s revealed that the residential fires are the main targets and the business fires are meant to be distractions to spread thin emergency responses. The manner in which this serial pyromaniac killer does his/her bidding is unique and enthralling. Just the very idea of a serial arsonist/murderer is original and has me on my toes.


Where I’m currently at in the story, the detectives have zeroed in on a prime suspect that seems a bit unbelievable. I guess until I fully understand the motive and strategy behind the crimes, it will remain a little far-fetched. However, I think this is also a good example of “not judging a book by its cover.” The prime suspect seems an unlikely candidate, but I think with this M.J. Arlidge has made the point that monsters, murderers, and criminals come in all packages.


© Chelsie Cummings 2016

Picture in featured image found on Flickr.

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