by M.J. Arlidge
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Ebook Edition; 400 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
Detective Inspector Helen Grace is no stranger to tragedy. But when a body is found in a Southampton nightclub, the death cuts too close to the bone. Hiding her personal connection to the victim - and a double-life which must remain secret at all costs - Helen becomes a woman possessed, working her team around the clock to chase down every lead. As the killer strikes again, the investigation takes its toll not only on Helen but also her senior officers. Tempers flare, friendships fray and Helen faces an impossible choice. Confess her sins and lose control of the case? Or keep living a lie, protecting her darkest secrets, and risk getting trapped in this tangled web? But whatever she does, this killer will not stop until the truth is revealed: there are some fates worse than death . . .
Little Boy Blue is the fifth book in the Detective Helen Grace series and this one becomes very personal. Investigating the death of a friend, one that she needs to keep secret, takes up every ounce of investigative power that Helen has in order to stay on the case before her inner-most secrets are discovered. While I did find the beginning of this novel to be somewhat slow, then last third definitely makes up for the slower than normal start.
I have read all of the books in this series and I will admit that I am no closer to understanding Helen now than I was before. Helen has a big secret that she keeps from everyone around her, and I won't even pretend to understand that world or why she needs it so desperately. This novel closes in on that world as a close associate is murdered and suddenly, Helen is faced with a devastating choice - reveal her dual life to those with whom she works or lie. Again, I didn't really understand her choice as I could see it as one of betrayal and lies, and I could definitely see why her colleagues would react the way that they did. I do admire Helen quite a bit however, as she is strong, very intelligent, and doesn't let others put her or anyone else down. I love it when she gets all tough on others who think they can take advantage of her, and I am definitely looking forward to some revenge scenarios in the next book once people find out they put their loyalties in the wrong corner. There is going to be some serious butt-kicking happening!!! She is very complex, and the author continues to do her character justice with her character development.
While I admire Helen, I do have to admit some of the other characters were a bit annoying in this one. What happened to Charlie? All she and Sanderson did was whine and argue pretty much the entire book, and it got old, fast. And is it possible to have a novel where a senior office doesn't have a fixation on a junior officer in order to create drama? That too gets old. I like it when characters have flaws and negative attitudes and attributes, but I wasn't overly impressed with the way some of these characters behaved in this one.
While the novel develops slowly, I did find the research into the world of S&M to be quite fascinating; I have no way of knowing how accurate the portrayal was though as I have no knowledge of that world, but Arlidge definitely did a good job portraying the characters and some of the ways people could be involved, both openly and secretly. I liked how the author portrayed both the dangerous side of this world, the sadistic people involved in this world and the tortures that are involved, as well as the way the rest of the world sees this type of behaviour through some of the prejudices and reactions of the characters, like parents. There were many twists and turns in this one, and headed towards a result I was fervently hoping wasn't going where I thought it was going, but did. While I wasn't surprised by the ending, I still found it shocking. Know what I mean?
Little Boy Blue is a fascinating journey through the S&M world, and particularly through Helen's as we learn more about her. As always, I found this novel easy to read, with a somewhat slower start than usual, but it certainly picks up towards the end. I did find some of the secondary characters to be somewhat annoying in this one; I would have liked to have seen somewhat stronger female leads without resorting to in-fighting all the time. I do recommend that you begin with the first novel in the series however, if you have not read any of these before. I am definitely looking forward to the next novel in this series.