Thursday, July 31, 2014


Title: Eeny Meeny
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: May 8, 2014
Genres: Adult, Thriller, Mystery
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


Two hostages. One bullet. One lives. One dies.

They were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Soul mates. But when a young couple wakes up alone together, disorientated and trapped, they are yet to grasp the true horror of their situation. They have no food, no water. Instead there is a gun loaded with a single bullet and a mobile phone with enough power only to deliver a short message: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’. For their captor it’s simple: set the scene, watch, wait and leave the victims to do the killing. Tortured by fear, desperation, starvation and thirst, there’s only one way to end their ordeal: one of them must die. 

DI Helen Grace and her team know they are hunting a complex predator whose broken survivors must endure their role as living calling cards. And killers. The victims - work colleagues, a mother and daughter, a pair of dancers - appear to be chosen at random and yet the planning is meticulous. There must be something driving the choice of victims, but until DI Grace can establish a connection, the killer is unreachable. A breakthrough is elusive and then, terrifyingly, the investigation begins to turn full circle...


I haven't read a crime thriller in quite a while, so Eeny Meeny was both a refreshing and absolutely gripping read. When DI Helen Grace realizes that, at least one victim out of each couple the serial killer abducts, is somehow linked to her, she knows that she is dealing with an unusual brand of evil.

This fast paced thriller had me reading well past normal hours. Although the action and suspense are almost nonstop, the author skillfully inserts important details about the main characters and their backgrounds into the story. The shift in point of view from victims to police to Helen Grace and also to the killer serves to heighten the tension and increase the mystery. 

The main character, DI Helen Grace, is a bit of an enigma. Determined to apprehend the killer and totally dedicated to her work, she sets personal involvements and feelings aside to see justice done. Yet, she lives a rather lonely personal life and, with her strange proclivity for receiving pain, she visits an S&M therapist once a month.

All the characters, and especially Mark and Charley, are likable and realistically flawed. Of course, as in all newsworthy dramas, the media plays its insidious and often harmful roll. As if a serial killer targeting couples isn't enough, corruption in the police force rears its ugly head at the most inconvenient moment.

The trauma suffered by the cooped up captives is so vividly described, that I actually experienced a tinge of claustrophobia. This book deals with the vulnerability of those who can never show said vulnerability in their jobs. It also shows how a damaged childhood could lead to either great ambition and success, or an inability to forgive, and subsequent insanity.

For a brilliantly thrilling story that will take you from the desperate circumstances of the captives to the twisted mind of the killer, and from the guilt ridden conscience of the survivors to the nonstop excitement of the incident room, I recommend Eeny Meeny as an absolute must read.


M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specialising 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.

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