All Fall Down (DI Helen Grace #9), by M.J. Arlidge

Eight stars

When I noticed a new novel by M.J. Arlidge, I could not wait to see what DI Helen Grace was doing and how she might tackle yet another ruthless killer. In a story that keeps the reader guessing throughout, Arlidge does not disappoint. When Justin Lanning receives an anonymous call stating that he has only one hour to live, he is understandably upset. His panic is only increased when his hired driver takes him on a route with which he is not familiar. After Lanning’s body is found the following day, DI Helen Grace and her team arrive at the scene. Lanning’s notoriety is not overlooked, as he was one of a number of teenage schoolchildren who escaped the clutches of Daniel King eight years earlier. King abducted them and was prepared to kill them all, when all but one was able to escape and make it to the authorities. King torched his rural farm and fled, leaving one of the children inside to die. Grace must now fight against the publicity, as well as a recently released memoir by one of the others, Maxine Pryce. As Grace tries to piece it all together, she cannot help but wonder if there is a connection between Lanning’s murder and Pryce’s new book, which is exacerbated by an outspoken journalist looking for her next scoop. After a second of the schoolchildren is murdered, Grace cannot help but see the pattern clearly. All hands on deck to sift through any possible clues as to where Daniel King might have gone. While all this is taking place, some with Grace’s team take risks to follow leads and track down people of interest, so much so that the police brass must wonder whether DI Helen Grace is in over her head. A decent copper, but her leadership skills are surely in question. After a twist in the case takes the team down a different rabbit hole, Grace cannot help but wonder if their tunnel vision all along might have derailed the investigation at the worst possible time. M.J. Arlidge does a masterful job of spinning a complex web of events and takes the reader along. Recommended to those who love British police procedurals, as well as those who have come to love Helen Grace and all her antics.

When I discovered this series, I could not get enough. M.J. Arlidge writes in such a way that there is no shaking the lure of the stories or the banter between the characters. Throughout the nine novels in the collection, DI Helen Grace has shown her grit and determination, never one to shy away from things that many would deep out of their comfort zone. While her choices have sometimes been dicey, she is always focussed on her job and helping those in need. The rest of the group have all evolved in their own way over the years, some coming and going, but always developing throughout the experience. Arlidge does well in not creating a stagnant collection of characters whose sole goal is to support Helen Grace, as she pushes the envelope and tries to do what she feels is best. The story was well crafted and pulls the reader in from the opening pages. With great plot development that builds with each chapter, the reader wants to know a little more. Short chapters that clip along, as well as segments of Maxine Pryce’s memoir interspersed throughout, help give the reader the impetus to forge ahead and devour the book in short order, which I have done. A perfect addition to the series that will keep readers begging for more soon.

Kudos, Mr. Arlidge, for another winner. I cannot say enough about your writing or this series. Please keep them coming!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: