Ruby wakes up in a strange room. Her captor calmly explains that no one is looking for her. No one wants her. Except him.
When the body of a woman is found buried on a secluded beach, Detective Helen Grace is called to the scene. She knows right away that the killer is no amateur. The woman has been dead for years, and no one has even reported her missing. But why would they? She’s still sending text messages to her family.
Helen is convinced that a criminal mastermind is at work: someone very smart, very careful, and worst of all, very patient. But as she struggles to piece together the killer’s motive, time is running out for a victim who is still alive...
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Ruby tossed fitfully in her bed after a disturbed night’s sleep. She seemed to have been in and out of consciousness for hours—not fully awake, but not truly asleep either. Wild anxiety dreams collided uneasily with the odd sensation of her mother carrying her to bed. That had felt nice but was impossible, of course. Ruby lived alone and it had been fifteen years or more since her parents had had to do that.
Ruby regretted her session at Revolution last night. Angry with life, she had been in a self-destructive mood, unable or unwilling to turn down the free drinks offered by hopeful lads. There had been pills and cocaine too—the whole thing had been a blur. But had she really drunk so much, taken so much, that she should feel this bad?
She turned over again, burying her throbbing head in the sheets. She had important stuff to do today—her mum was coming round soon—but suddenly Ruby couldn’t face any of it. She just wanted to hide away from the world, cocooned in her hangover, safe from the intrusion of family, responsibility, betrayal and tears. She wanted her life to go away—for a couple of hours at least.
Putting her head under the pillow, she groaned quietly. It was surprisingly cool underneath—cooler than usual—and for a moment she felt refreshed and soothed. This would be a good hidey-hole for a litt—
Something wasn’t right. The smell. What was it about the smell of the sheets? They smelled . . . wrong.
Alarm started to burrow through her hangover. Her sheets always smelled citrusy. She used the same fabric softener her mum did. So why did they now smell of lavender?
Ruby kept her eyes closed, the pillow clamped over her head. Her brain ached fiercely as it spooled back over last night’s events. She had snogged a guy, flirted with a few more . . . but she hadn’t gone home with anyone, had she? No, she had made it back to her flat alone. She remembered dropping her keys on the table, drinking water straight from the kitchen tap, taking some Nurofen before flopping into bed. That was last night, wasn’t it?
She could feel her breathing becoming shallow now, her chest tightening. She needed her asthma inhaler. Stretching out her arm, she groped for the bedside table—drunk or not, she always left her inhaler within easy reach. But it wasn’t there. She reached out farther. Nothing. The table wasn’t bloody there. Her hand collided with the wall. Rough brick. Her wall wasn’t like th—
Ruby pulled off the pillow and sat up. Her mouth fell open, but only a weak gasp came out—her body frozen in breathless panic. She had gone to sleep in her nice, cozy bed. But had woken up in a cold, dark cellar.
The sun was high in the sky and Carsholt Beach looked magnificent, a long swath of golden sand merging effortlessly with the gentle waters of the Solent. Andy Baker patted himself on the back—Carsholt was literally at the end of the road, so even though the beach was beautiful, there was hardly ever anybody down here. Cathy, he and the kids had the place to themselves and were set fair for a perfect Saturday by the sea. Picnic, bit of Frisbee, a few beers—already the stresses of the working week were melting away.
Leaving the boys to dig their trench—a prelude to pitched battles between his boisterous twins—Andy set off by himself toward the water’s edge. What was it that was so calming about this place? The isolation? The view? The sound of the sea lapping the shore? Andy let the water run over his toes. He had been coming here since he was a kid. He’d brought his wife—his first wife—and the boys here. That hadn’t ended well, of course, but looking over toward Cathy, digging and joking with Tom and Jimbo, Andy now felt blessed.
This place was his sanctuary and he looked forward to it all week. Running a security business sounded good on paper, but it was nonstop aggro. You used to be able to get decent people on your books, but not now. Maybe it was the influx of foreigners or just modern times, but every third employee seemed to have a drug problem or an eye for the girls. Last month, he’d been sued by a nightclub owner who’d caught one of his guys dealing ketamine in the club toilets. He was getting too old for stuff like that—perhaps it was time to think about retiring.
A noise made Andy look up sharply. It came from behind him. From the direction of the boys. They were shouting. No, they were screaming.
Already Andy was sprinting across the sand, his heart beating sixteen to the dozen. Was someone hurting them? He could see Cathy, but where were the boys?
She didn’t even look at him.
Finally she looked up. Her face was ashen. She tried to speak, but before she could say anything the boys crashed into her, holding on to her for dear life.
Andy stared at them, confused and fearful. As Cathy clasped the boys to her chest, her gaze remained resolutely fixed on the trench. Was it something in there that had spooked them? A dead animal or . . .
Andy approached the lip of the trench. He had a sense of what he would find. Could see it in his mind’s eye. But even so, his heart skipped a beat when he peered into the hole. The sides were steep, the trench was deep—three feet or so—and there at the bottom, perfectly framed by wet sand, was the pale face of a young woman.
Snow blindness studded her vision and her chest tightened still further. Ruby was in the midst of a full-blown asthma attack now, her panic making her breathing short and erratic. She could feel her heart thundering out a remorseless rhythm, as if it were going to explode. What the hell was happening? Was this real?
She sank her teeth into her arm. The pain coursed through her fleetingly before she released her grip to try to suck in more air. It was real. She should have known by how bloody freezing she was. Shivering, she lay down on the bed and tried to calm herself. The thought of not having her inhaler was freaking her out, but she had to try to control her panic or she would black out. And she couldn’t do that. Not here.
Calm. Try to be calm. Think nice thoughts. Think of Mum. And Dad. And Cassie. And Conor. Think of fields. And rivers. And sunlight. Think of being a kid. And playgrounds. And summers in the garden. Running through the sprinkler. Think happy, happy thoughts.
Ruby’s chest was rising and falling less violently now, her breathing a little less desperate. Keep your cool. It’ll be fine. There will be a simple explanation for all this. Propping herself up on her pillows, she took a deep breath and suddenly called:
Her voice sounded strange, her words flopping dully off the exposed brick walls. The room was in darkness save for the light that stole under the bottom of the door, providing just enough illumination to reveal her situation. The room measured about fifteen by fifteen and would have looked like any other bedsit—a bed, a table and chairs, an oven and kettle, some bookshelves—except for the fact that there were no windows. The floorboards that formed the low ceiling above were wooden but oddly betrayed no cracks or chinks of light.
“Hello?” Her voice quivered as she fought to suppress the panic that gripped her. Still no answer, no signs of life.
Suddenly she was on her feet—anything not to be sitting there thinking horrible thoughts. She crossed the room, working the handle of the heavy metal door, but it was locked. Frantically she did a circuit of the small room, looking for some means of escape, but found nothing.
She shivered. She was scared half to death and cold to the bone. Her eyes alighted on the cooker. It was an old gas one, with two ovens and four hobs. She was suddenly seized with the thought of turning it on. The four hobs would warm the place up and brighten it a little too. She turned the dial and pressed the ignition. Nothing. Ruby tried the next, then the next. Still nothing.
She walked round the cooker to check out the back. She didn’t know the first thing about cookers, but perhaps there was something obvious?
It wasn’t connected. There were no pipes at the back connecting it to a gas supply. It was just for show. Ruby slumped to the floor. Tears came fast now as her confusion collided with fear.
What was this place? Why was she here? Questions spun round Ruby’s head as she tried to process this strange reality. She was slipping fast into despair, tears rolling off her chin onto the floor.
Then suddenly a noise nearby made her look up.
What was it? Was it upstairs or down here?
There it was again. Footsteps. Definitely footsteps. They were coming closer. Stopping outside the door. Ruby jumped to her feet, alive to the danger.
Silence. Then suddenly a wicket hatch in the door slid open and a pair of eyes filled the slit. Ruby stumbled backward, pressing herself into the corner of the room—she wanted to be as far away from the door as possible.
The sound of bolts being unlocked.
“Help!” Ruby screamed.
But she didn’t get any further. The door swung open, flooding the room with light. Ruby clamped her eyes shut, blinded by the sudden burst of illumination. Then slowly, cautiously, she opened them again.
A tall figure stood in the doorway. He was silhouetted by the light behind, so she couldn’t make out his features. He was just a shadow—hovering, watching.
Then, as suddenly as it had opened, the heavy door slammed shut again. They were together in darkness now.
Ruby covered her face with her hands and prayed to a God she didn’t believe in, pleading with him to have mercy on her. But for all her praying, she couldn’t block out the sound of the footsteps approaching her.
The wind buffeted DI Helen Grace as she sped along the coastal road. She hadn’t been down this isolated spit of land before and she liked what she saw. The wildness, the isolation—it was her kind of place. With the road open before her, she ratcheted up her speed, pushing hard against the strong headwind.
Soon the crime scene came into view and she eased off on the throttle, bringing her Kawasaki’s progress down to a respectable thirty miles per hour. DS Lloyd Fortune was waiting for her by the fluttering police tape. Young, smart, the poster boy for ethnic-minority policing in Southampton, Lloyd was destined for great things. Helen had always liked and respected him, yet still it felt odd having him as her number two. Her old friend Charlie Brooks had been temporarily promoted to DS during their pursuit of Ella Matthews, but her elevation had never been made permanent. And as soon as Charlie had announced her pregnancy, it became academic—she would remain at her former rank of DC for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t fair, but that was the way it worked, the odds forever stacked against working mums.
The old team was breaking up. Tony Bridges had left the force for good, DC Grounds was due to retire shortly and Charlie was on maternity leave, a few weeks shy of giving birth. Lloyd was the new DS, they had two new DCs—the Major Incident Team had a very different feel now. If she was honest, it made Helen uncomfortable. She hadn’t got a handle on the new personalities, was yet to establish an easy rhythm with the freshly assembled team. But the only way to do that was to go through fire together.
“What have you got for me, Lloyd?”
They were already making their way under the police cordon and across the sand toward the trench.
“Young female. Buried about three feet down. Found by a couple of kids an hour or so ago. They’re over there with their parents.”
Lloyd indicated the family of four, huddled in police blankets, giving their statements to a uniformed officer.
“Any connection to the victim?”
“No, they come here most weekends. Usually have the place to themselves.”
“Anybody live near here?”
“No. The nearest houses are three miles away.”
“Does it pick up anything from the lighthouse at night?”
“It’s too far round.”
“Making this a pretty good deposition site.”
They walked in silence to the lip of the trench. Meredith Walker, Southampton Central’s chief forensics officer, was at the bottom, carefully excavating the body. Helen took in the scene, the white-suited forensics officer crouching sinisterly over a woman who looked completely at peace, despite the wet sand that stuck to her hair, eyes and lips.
The woman’s face, shoulders, upper torso and arms had been revealed. Her limbs were painfully thin and the skin very pale, which made her single tattoo stand out even more. Despite the partial decomposition, she was a strangely beautiful sight, her black hair still framing those vivid blue eyes. It reminded Helen of the Grimms’ fairy tales, of gothic damsels awaiting true love’s kiss.
“How long has she been down there?” Helen asked.
“Hard to say,” replied Meredith. “The sand at this depth is cold and wet—ideal conditions to preserve the body. There are no animals or insects to get to her here either. But it’s not recent. Given the levels of decomposition, I would say two, three years—Jim Grieves will be able tell you more once he gets her back to the mortuary.”
“I’ll need the crime scene photos tonight if possible,” Helen said.
“Will do. Though I’m not sure how much help they’ll be. Whoever did this has been careful. Her earrings and nose studs have been removed. The fingernails have been cut. And you can guess what time and tide have done to any residual forensic evidence.”
Helen thanked Meredith and walked down to the water’s edge to get a better view of the scene. Already her nerves were jangling. This was a careful, premeditated disposal by someone who knew exactly what they were doing. This wasn’t the work of an amateur. Which strongly suggested to Helen that their killer had done this before.
“Stay away. Don’t come near me.”
Ruby was backed into a corner of the room. She held out her arms to ward off attack, but she knew immediately that it was an empty gesture.
Click. A powerful torch beam fired straight at her. Her heart raced as she watched the torch beam run the rule over her, creeping down from her face, over her chest to her thighs and then her feet. Despite her determination to appear strong, she felt her composure abandon her now and she started to sob.
“Don’t be frightened.”
His voice was measured and steady. She didn’t recognize it, though the Southampton accent came through clearly.
“Please let me go,” she said through tears. “I won’t tell anyone. I—”
“Are you cold?”
“Please. I just want to go home.”
“If you’re cold, I can get you an extra blanket. I want you to be comfortable.”
His calm pragmatism was crushing. He was speaking as if nothing unusual had happened. As if this were normal.
“Are you hungry?”
“I want to go home, you motherfucker. Stop . . . stop talking to me. Just . . . take me home. The police will be looking for me—”
“Nobody’s looking for you, Ruby.”
“My parents are expecting me. My mum’s coming round today—”
“Your parents don’t love you.”
“They never have.”
“Why are you say—”
“I’ve seen the way they treat you. What they say about you when you’re not around. They want rid of you.”
“That’s not true.”
“Really? You walked out on them, remember. So why should they come looking for you?”
The horrible logic of it rendered Ruby speechless. “No . . . no. You’re wrong. You’re lying. If you want money, they’ve got—”
“I’m just telling you the truth. They don’t want you. But I do.”
Ruby sobbed louder. This couldn’t be happening.
“I want to go home,” she whimpered.
The torch beam moved still closer. He was beside her now. Ruby hung her head, clamping her eyes shut. She could feel his breath on her. She flinched when she felt him stroke her hair.
“That’s good to hear, my love.”
His voice was a warm whisper.
“Because this is your home now.”
Excerpted from "The Doll's House"
Copyright © 2016 M. J. Arlidge.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This author is the "real deal". Expect to lose sleep once you start reading, because you won't want to put it down. Highly recommend ALL this very talented has written!!!!
I have read all 3 of the DI Helen Grace stories and I loved every one of them. She is a strong woman who has so many issues, it is hard to get to know her. She is an angry person, who uses that anger to drive her investigations and catch the criminal. In every story we learn a bit more about her past and what molded her into the person she has become. In this story, a body is found buried on the beach. When the body is identified, Helen finds out that even though the victim has been dead for several years, she has still been sending social media posts. As her team investigates, they come across some other missing person reports that fit the pattern and after digging, they find two more bodies buried at the beach. Now they are after a serial killer that they believe has another victim that is still alive. Using good old fashioned police work, the help of the press and a tip from the public, DI Grace discovers a link between the missing women and now must find the killer before he has a chance to kill again. While dealing with the crime, she is also dealing with her own problems involving her search for her nephew as well as trying to deal with a vendetta against her from her superior, Ceri Hardwood. As with all the books in this series, this one is well written with a plot and subplots to keep you engaged and turning pages just as fast as you can. The short chapters seem to make the story go even faster. As with all the books in this series, it sucks you right into the story and can be read in one sitting. All the major characters are fleshed out and it is interesting to follow them from the previous book. If you enjoy a suspenseful police procedural with characters that you will feel for, then pick up this book, another great entry into the DI Grace series.
Wow! Three books into this series and each book has been a five star read for me so far. That is crazy but so wonderful at the same time! I cannot get over how fast paced and intense these books are for me as the reader. I picked this book up specifically because that was what I needed. My husband was having surgery and I knew that I needed a book that would suck me in basically so that I wouldn't just sit there and stress for two hours straight. The short chapters and constant feeling of tension worked wonderfully and had me turning the pages as fast as I could. I was able to finish this book in less than two days because I just didn't want to set the book down. It was the perfect stress reliever as I found myself racing to see how it would all turn out. It was funny because at first the premise of this book almost felt a bit familiar to me. I still don't know what book it reminded me of though so I'm not sure why. But what the author is so skilled at is even though I had that feeling in the beginning, it soon went away because of everything else that was going on throughout this book. I don't even know how to explain it really. Each book in this series could be read as a stand-alone if the reader wanted to read them out of order. There are these details though from the first book to now this one, that just make this series stand out for me as the reader. The different things that Helen has to deal with both in her work and personal life. The people that care for her and those that don't. It all adds up to make such a unique reading experience that I just can't get enough of. This book wasn't my favorite of the series (that still remains as Eeny Meeny the 1st book) but it was also still a five star read for me which should say it all. It was a chilling read that kept me wondering how it would all come together until the very end. This author isn't afraid to make difficult choices with the characters at points which makes it a very nerve-wracking reading experience. I just never know what is going to happen next! This is an author and a series that I just cannot recommend enough. I'm trying to take my time with this series and not rush through it but when the books are all this good....well, it is definitely hard! I've already got the next book on my TBR list and I have a feeling that I won't be waiting too much longer to read it. Highly recommended! Heck, I recommend the entire series! Bottom Line: This book will most likely be on my top reads list for 2017! It was that good! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The third in a series that follows a Detective in England - Helen Grace. Each of these books have a serial killer who has interesting ways they find their victims and kill their victims and The Doll's House did not disappoint. In this book, you have a killer who has a particular type of girl for a certain reason that he finds and holds on to until it doesn't work out and then he kills them and disposes the body. Helen Grace and her team need to find out how he finds the ladies and then where he keeps them in order to find him. At the same time that the major investigation is going on, there is drama inhouse and Helen Grace and her team have some infighting and they have to fix it before it affects their work. This storyline has continued from the previous and ties the books together, so even though each killer is contained within each book, I would suggest starting at the beginning so you can get the full story of these officers beyond their investigations.
Terrific book! I have loved each and every one of Arlidge's books I have read. The Helen Grace series is suspenseful, quick moving, and a page turner. My favorite in this series is the first, EENY MEANY. In this 3rd book in the Helen Grace series Arlidge does not disappoint!
This story was fantastic, the striking drama and the author’s details created a powerful story that centered on criminal activities that were realistically portrayed and made me craving more from this author. There was one reference in the story that just didn’t sit well with me but overall this story was great. The author kept the story moving and building in intensity and depth until the very end – the making of a superb novel. Ruby makes a wonderful victim, with her attitude and her intellect as she doesn’t throw in the towel as she is held captive by the man who refers to her as Summer. The novel gets creepy as she plays along with the world he feels he lives in and I had to wonder why his other victims did not survive. The police who are investigating this case have their own drama occurring back at the office and it flows into this case causing rifts. I will read more by this author as I enjoyed his writing. I really wanted to love this novel but I was cautiously reading it, scrutinizing every word as I read it just wondering when the storyline was going to change. I found unfortunately that there weren’t any notions to tell me when the storylines were changing in the novel and I found myself getting lost; having to reread sections to get myself back on track and this took away from the enjoyment of the novel. I was not grasping all the intensity, nor the drama and the excitement that was occurring and it was frustrating. Had the story had one storyline, it would have been fine but this story did not and reading a novel of this caliber, I was inclined to read it with intensity but unfortunately I just couldn’t. Reading slowly, I felt I missing a really great story. I lowered my rating from a 5 to a 4 because of this issue. Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel for me to read in exchange for an honest opinion.
In this third entry in his Detective Helen Grace series, M.J. Arlidge continues his tradition of excellence, in both the fast-paced plot and the thoughtful character development (particularly that of Detective Sergeant Lloyd Fortune). In this case, he has also given us a second villain to despise: Detective Superintendent Ceri Harwood, who goes to absurd lengths in her vendetta against Grace. What makes The Doll's House the weakest book in the series thus far is the direction in which Arlidge has taken Grace's relationship with Jake. It almost feels as though someone told Arlidge that Grace needs a love interest, and Jake was the nearest available male. This reader, for one, thinks Grace - prickly, damaged, loyal, aggressive, intimidating, independent Grace - is perfect just the way she is. I received a free copy of The Doll's House through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Author M.J. Arlidge starts readers/listeners in the thick of drama and then builds the suspense and story around it in his latest release. Narrators Elizabeth Bower and Scott Joseph do an excellent job bring the various characters to live, each with their own unique voice. The back-and-forth change in narrators adds depth to this thriller and emphasizes the sensations of the story. The author has created well-developed characters that are realistic and become more intriguing to the reader/listener as the story unfolds. The pace is quick and while it changes perspective from several characters, it flows smoothly. Vivid details makes one feel a part of the scene. Readers/listeners not only get a feel for what Detective Helen Grace is facing trying to catch this sadistic killer, but also what she is dealing with in her personal life. In addition, Arlidge blends in police politics and the various problems facing officers daily in their pursuit of criminals and maintaining balance at work. THE DOLL’S HOUSE will keep you guessing as the suspense grows. FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge is the third book in the Helen Grace series. Dark haired, blue eyed young women are disappearing and Helen Grace smells a serial suspect. Can she find him before his latest victim meets her end? The Doll's House is a dark, psychological thriller that will keep you guessing till the riveting end. I received this copy of The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Helen Grace is well-known to mystery and crime novel fans as the author of Pop Goes the Weasel” and now returns in her third thriller story. Her Southampton job is to find a psychopathic, serial killer who buries his victims on a nearby beach. Now Ruth Sprackler had spent the night drinking and never imagined why her captor would kidnap her and hide her in his basement. She awakens, not knowing where she is or why she is there. The creepiness and pathologically sickening behavior of Ruth’s captor is so intense it elicits intense fear and horror at what is unfolding. For those who love the thrill of stories such as this one, you will be more than satisfied and frightened. Ruth believes she will be successful in finding this killer before he kills again, never imagining another victim is coming close to the end of her life. Before the killer claims his victims in death, he sends cruel texts to family members of his victims. The torturous nature of this act is almost beyond imagination but is clearly an edge that makes the killer feel powerful beyond words which he expresses as amusement. Hallmarks of his identity appear and little by little Helen and her team will figure out the sick motivation behind this killer’s devastating acts. While Ruth is attempting to solve this mystery before more victims are claimed, she has a problem at work. A change in personnel leaves Detective Ceri Harwood in charge and pulling rank. Her jealousy is revealed in the way she tries to block Ruth from pursuing this killer even to the point of bribery. The Doll’s House… is the real deal in thriller fiction and sure to enthrall all lovers of the genre. Stay tuned for more truly frightening, spine-tingling and adrenalin-pumping thrillers from this highly skilled author, M. J. Arlidge!
4.5 Stars! I think the more books I read by this author, the more I like him. I didn't care much for his first one and the second one was a little better. However, this one? This one had my heart pumping and my blood boiling. It was suspenseful as a young girl was missing and the story would visit with her while she was being held in a windowless building. The whole time the police the were looking for her. That's why my heart was pumping. My blood was boiling because the lead detective was more interested in her jealous rage over DI Grace than finding out where this teenage girl was being kept. I wanted to reach right through the pages and grab this horrific woman right by the neck and choke her until she was breathing no more. What a horrible boss she was. Glad to get that off my chest. As for the rest of the story, it was very creepy and definitely had me on the edge of my seat. And when all the answers came to light, it was extremely creepy. This definitely kept me entertained and I did not want to put it down. As my enjoyment has ramped up with each book I have read by this author, I am most enthusiastically waiting for the next title. M. J. Arlidge, in my opinion, just keeps getting better and better. Thanks Berkley Press for approving my request and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. 2 likes ·
Another exciting and engrossing adventure for Detective Inspector Helen Grace. The team is all represented, and many of the problems and conflict from the first story are included. The style of writing includes jumps from one character to another in the same paragraph. It is a little disconcerting at the beginning, but adds to the suspense as the story progresses. The slow-paced police procedure is set against the accelerating terror of the serial killer to continually raise the level 0of excitement for the reader. Helen Grace is a sociopath as much as the psychos she pursues. However, she channels her obsessions into her police work. Each of the main characters are unique, but I would hesitate to call them likeable. The suspense builds right up to the ending, and you can't stop reading until you get there.
Fourth in this series, this one does well as a stand-alone, although I would highly recommend starting with the first book. Detective Helen Grace does have a history ...one you don't want to miss out on. Detective Grace and her team are chasing yet another serial killer. Young women with long dark hair and baby blue eyes are being abducted. When their bodies are finally found, the medical examiner determines that they starved to death. They also all sport the same bluebird tattoo .. something they didn't have before being taken. Grace's immediate supervisor isn't buying it. At this point she is so jealous of Grace she can't see straight. She will do anything she can to discredit her, or better yet, find a way to get rid of her permanently .. even if it mean blackmailing one of her own team. But Grace, no matter how horrendous her background, is very strong and able to function quite well at her job, and fighting against the powers that be, at the same time. As with all this author's books, this one is well written with a plot and subplots to keep you engaged and turning pages just as fast as you can. All the major players ..and the secondary characters.. are very well fleshed out. You can follow their growth as friends ..or enemies ... through each book. Love the book, love the series, love the characters. 5 Stars. My thanks to the author / Berkley Publishing Group /NAL / NetGalley who furnished a digital copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.