As the weekend was so bleak here – really cold and then drifting mist and never-ending rain, I decided to indulge in some spine-tingling Mo Hayder. Her latest Jack Caffery psychological thriller (the 6th) is Poppet (Bantam Press) and it is so good: despite a couple of times deciding that was it, I was a little too freaked out and wasn’t going to read any more, I actually had to keep going, I just had to know what happened and who did it.

The mentally ill patients in Amberly Secure Unit are highly suggestible. A hallucination can spread like a virus, like the fear and unease that has spread from the inmates to the staff. Amidst the growing hysteria, and disturbing incidents, AJ, a senior psychiatric nurse, is desperate to protect his charges but he too thinks he has seen ‘The Maude’, and is not at all sure that what the patients are experiencing is a hallucination.
AJ seeks the help of Detective Inspector Jack Caffery in investigating the trouble at Amberly. Caffery is also trying to tie up some very loose ends from previous cases. Each man must face a bitter truth in his own life before they can find out just what is happening at Amberley.
There are a couple of very clever twists in the plot along the way, and it is nice to catch up with Caffery again.

Hader’s books are really authentic, drawing on her long research association with several UK police forces and on her personal encounters with criminals and prostitutes. They have their utterly terrifying moments but the plots are so original and the characters so well written that they are well worth a read. Particularly so on a grim winter’s day…




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