Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Title: Little Boy Blue (Helen Grace #5)
Author: MJ Arlidge
Publisher: Berkley Books
Pages: 395

I must confess that I had never heard of the Helen Grace series prior to this, and perhaps this book would have made far more sense to me had I read the series in sequence.

The story opens in a BDSM club where lines are blurred and sexual norms, mores and morals suspended.

We open with the 3rd person viewpoint of an unnamed male narrator, gay, recently split from his boyfriend, who enters a fevered liaison only to be brutally murdered.

Next, we see the 3rd person viewpoint of Helen Grace, inspector of police. Helen is brutally efficient and hard on herself. She has her own vulnerabilities and demons that she is combating. 

Helen recognizes the murder victim as her dominator, Jake. At this point, I gasped in shock when I realized the kind of demons she suffers from and the ways she has adopted to expunge them out of her system.

At first Helen used to hire the services of Jake, but when he began to develop feelings for her, she used the services of Max Paine, another dominator, and when he proved to be irritating, she moved to a woman, Angelique, hoping that working with a woman would free her from any attraction.

Meanwhile, Sally, married for 20 years, is worried when her husband, Paul, does not return home from work. This has happened once too often and she suspects that he might be having an affair. But the truth is even more difficult for her to handle.

While the case troubles her, Helen also has to contend with the sparring and bickering between her two detective sergeants, Charlie Brooks and Sanderson, who have a bitter rivalry. Even though the heroine of this book is Helen, the story pays equal attention to the efforts made by her two deputies.

Helen is afraid that the investigation will reveal her own relationship with Jake, and call her integrity into question. If that’s not enough to give her sleepless nights, journalist Emilia Garanita who would like nothing more than a salacious story, truth optional, is aware of her past and determined to tell all.

Helen is tormented, anxious for the investigation to go on, and fearful for what it might reveal. She keeps the truth about Jake to herself, but when Paine is murdered even more brutally days later, she confesses her truth to her superior, who later makes a pass at her.

Shortly after, Angelique is murdered, and Helen becomes aware that somebody is out to get her. Unfortunately for her, the others don’t quite see it that way, viewing her activities most suspiciously. By the end of the book, Helen is arrested for committing three murders while the real killer roams free. How is she to prove her innocence? We will have to read the next book to find out.

Generally, I find it annoying when books don’t conclude decisively and authors expect you to read the next one to find out what they should have told you in the previous book.

For the greater part of the narrative, the writing is good. But occasionally, the writer succumbs to the use of clichés such as ‘cutting to the chase’ and ‘sixteen to the dozen’ which even beginner writers know well that they must avoid.

Given the nature of the book, there are references to nudity and some forms of perversion.

The chapters are short, making the action in the narrative move faster. Still, hurtling through the book doesn’t get you anywhere, as there are more questions than answers awaiting you at the end.

(I received an ARC from First to Read).

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