Eeny Meeny

M.J. Arlidge. NAL, $15 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-451-47549-7

British author Arlidge’s engrossing first novel, a crime thriller, introduces Det. Insp. Helen Grace of the Hampshire police. When a fiend abducts a young woman and her boyfriend and torments them in an ingeniously cruel way that leads to the death of one of them, Helen investigates, but before she can make any headway there is a second similar case, then a third. Helen believes there’s a connection among the victims, but the only link she can see is that they were all acquaintances of hers. Helen is herself a severely damaged woman. Professional stress and a guilty family secret make her withdrawn and defensive in her personal life; her main relief comes from employing a professional dominator to whip her. Plot complications include Helen’s detection of a mole within the department and her complex relationship with an otherwise talented subordinate who’s sinking into debilitating alcoholism. Readers will look forward to seeing more of this strong, intelligent, and courageous lead. [em]Agent: Hellie Ogden, Janklow Nesbit. (June) [/em]