Mini-Review: Poppet by Mo Hayder

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (May 14, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0802121071
  • Source: Publisher

AJ is a head nurse at Beechway, a high-level psychiatric hospital. Rather than focusing on the crimes that each of his patients have committed, AJ treats them each with respect and care. It’s hard to ignore their claims that the ward is haunted by “The Maude.” a short little dwarf of a creature that reportedly sits on the chests of her victims as they sleep. When cases of self-harm keep popping up – three resulting in death-  AJ is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile a patient, Isaac, has been released into the world. He was complicit in a horrible act involving his parents when he was a child. Unfortunately, his involvement with the other patients’ abuse isn’t realized until after his hasty release. AJ, against the knowledge of his supervisor, calls in Detective Jack Caffery to investigate.  Do the crude doll-like effigies Isaac created have any correlations to the deaths?  With AJ’s help, Caffery digs down to reveal cases of brutality that would terrorize even the most skeptical of minds.

A second parallel storyline follows this one, involving an unsolved case of Caffery’s. Fans of Hayder’s previous work (in this case, Skin) will be rewarded with this return to an old case. Unfortunately, readers new to the series might feel a little out of the loop. Without this second storyline, Poppet would most certainly serve as a great stand-alone to readers new to this author.

Hayder has quite the talent for producing one terrorizing read after another. Poppet is the sixth book in her Caffery series and it is recommended that readers do read them in order. Caffery’s evolution as a character is quite remarkable, something readers might miss out on if they start the series mid-way or at the tail end.

A truly chilling combination of horror and true crime, Poppet is a novel best read under the light of day with all your lights turned on, doors and windows locked. Delightfully chilling and highly recommended.

The Retribution by Val McDermid

  • Hardcover:416 pages
  • Publisher:Atlantic Monthly Press (January 3, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0802120172
  • Source: Publisher

Clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill and detective Carol Jordan make quite the dynamic team. The work they’ve done together to put away dangerous criminals makes them the envy of their coworkers. One individual, however, has forever changed & affected their careers, their very lives: Jacko Vance, a former celebrity and truly evil person. Jacko is imprisoned, never to walk the streets again. So they think…

Vance has a unique way of influencing people. With help from inside the institution he is imprisoned, as well as outside, Vance is able to escape, desperate to destroy the lives of those individuals who put him in jail. Including Tony and Carol. They don’t know who Jacko will strike out against, they just know it will brutal and painful. Meanwhile, the team is also on the hunt for another serial killer, responsible for the murders of multiple prostitutes.

The Retribution is the seventh book in the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series of books, but my first introduction to McDermid’s writing. In my opinion, this book serves as a good introduction to the characters.  While new readers miss out on a great deal of the character’s history, The Retribution does a pretty outstanding job and describing the characters and giving an introduction to who they are, including brief snippets of the past incidents that have influenced them.

I can’t believe I waited so long to read McDermid’s books! I hate to use the term “unputdownable” but I was so absorbed in the storyline and the characters that I couldn’t bear to take a break from reading. As mentioned above, we learn a great deal about the character’s past, specifically Tony’s childhood and his unloving and emotion-free mother (which just happens to play an important role later on in the book).  Additionally, the pacing is perfect, lasting throughout the entirety of the book.  This is an author I plan on devoting a lot of my reading time to. Highly recommended!