EENY MEENY by M.J. Arlidge
Some books are meant to be slowly and considerately savored, and some books are meant to be devoured whole. EENY MEENY falls into the latter category. M.J. Arlidge’s detective novel pairs breakneck-speed plotting with short chapters and a straightforward plot to great effect. This book begs to be binge read, and will keep you thoroughly entertained until the very last page.
So what is EENY MEENY about? This novel is a classic cop vs. serial killer story; in this case, Detective Helen Grace vs. an anonymous serial killer. The book’s title is inspired by the serial killer’s MO. This killer kidnaps pairs of individuals and forces them into a mind game reminiscent of the first SAW movie: two people wake up in a locked room, and discover a gun and phone are the only things in the room with them. They receive a phone call and learn that in order to escape, one of them must die. Then the phone dies, and they are left utterly alone. It’s a twisted mind game that pits the kidnapping victims against each other. They must decide: will they starve to death, or will one of them kill the other?
EENY MEENY is a story almost entirely devoid of character development, but this only bothered me for the first couple chapters: it quickly becomes clear that this book isn’t meant to be a character study—it’s pure, no frills entertainment. I always like to check out follow reviewers’ opinions of the books I’ve just finished, and I have to strongly disagree with some of the “lack of character development” critiques I’ve seen about this book. It’s an undeniable fact that this story doesn’t spend much time on character development, but that’s not an oversight on the author’s part, as some reviewers assert. With patience, you will absolutely get to know the characters as the book continues. If you can let go of not knowing each character’s backstory beforehand, you’ll discover that the author gives you the relevant information about each character exactly when the need arises. The beauty of crime fiction is that it is a genre home to so many different styles; M.J. Arlidge’s style is succinct, action-packed, and addictive, and I’m a huge fan.
So what exactly makes EENY MEENY great? A strong female lead, a story unburdened by unnecessary details, a satisfyingly twisted villain, short chapters that keep you turning the pages as quickly as you can… these are just a few of the things I loved about this book. Mainly, this book is fun. (As much as a book about a serial killer can be.) Bring it with you on your next vacation, and you’ll fly through it before you arrive at your destination. It will leave you wanting more, and it will keep you hooked. At the end of the day, that’s what makes a great thriller.