Nerdsville Book Club: M.J. Arlidge – Eeny Meeny

This post is a review for the Nerdsville Book Club. Eeny Meeny was the first book of the month, as selected by Apple Charlotte. Read her review here, as well as reviews by Isha, Marie and Ragini.

Eeny Meeny Cover

Let’s play a drinking game, shall we? I know it’s quite early in the day, but we all can do with a shot of tequila or two in the morning. Or three? Or even more?

It’s quite easy: grab a crime novel, any crime novel, and whenever you encounter any of the following tropes, pour in your favourite alcoholic drink into a shot glass and gulp it. Are you ready? Here they are:

  • The events happen in Yorkshire, London or the West Country.
  • The main investigator is a tough person who doesn’t let anyone in…
  • … because she has a tortured past…
  • … and she also have a secret sexual “deviation”…
  • … such as S&M.
  • Her sidekick is quite reckless, but talented…
  • … a divorcé…
  • … and alcoholic…
  • … but a raw diamond nevertheless.
  • There is sexual tension between the sidekick and the main investigator…
  • … and they obviously shag.
  • There is a pretty, clean and perfect cop…
  • … who goes through a horrible incident in the story and is quite never the same again.
  • There are clean and perfect victims…
  • … who turn into shells of themselves once they go through their ordeal.
  • One of the apparently clean and perfect victims actually has a dark past…
  • … like the main investigator, LOL.
  • The main investigator only opens her heart and kindness to a few other people…
  • … who are misfits like her…
  • … and the criminal goes for them.
  • There are dead or endangered sex workers…
  • … and one of them is transgender…
  • … and not even the force respects them and their preferred name/use of pronouns after death.
  • There is a lot of monitoring and the investigators are in constant contact with the survivors…
  • … except the misfits and the sex workers, because who needs those.
  • The main investigator goes through on and off changes concerning her sexual “deviation”.
  • There’s a sneaky journalist everywhere.
  • There’s an initial suspect…
  • … who is actually innocent, but is still a person of doubtful morals…
  • … and gets done by the actual criminal.
  • The main investigator is somehow connected to the victims…
  • … so the criminal is obviously going after her.
  • “It’s all about me, me, me, ME!”
  • There’s a red herring who just comes and goes, is actually irrelevant and would make Chekjov grab his gun.
  • At the end, the criminal comes from the main investigator’s dark past…
  • … and was actually going after her!

If you do this while reading Eeny Meeny, by M.J. Arlidge, you will certainly get annihilated. Not by the story, which seems to be drowning in clichés and stereotypes, but by the drinking, which would make the reckless sidekick look like Ian McKaye next to you and your empty bottles of sambuca.

But don’t get me wrong. It is an engaging read. It is over 300 pages long, but you can jug it down in a couple of days. The chapters are brief, and the fast-action pace leaves no room for fillers and boredom. You can easily put it down, go get some errands done, then come back and get quickly hooked again into the story. If you’re a Frequent Flyer, this will be definitely more thrilling than whatever you find for in-flight entertainment. Unless they show Frozen. Then watch Frozen instead.

 M.J. Arlidge

M.J. Arlidge has been in television writing for several years, mostly as a producer, and is currently writing for the quintessential British crime series Silent Witness. While the setting for Silent Witness is currently away from the stereotypes I was mentioning earlier – Nottingham -, Eeny Meeny follows the seaside West Country setting we can find in common TV and literature places like the highly-acclaimed crime drama Broadchurch. This time, the main setting is Southampton, with irregular visits to Portsmouth, Essex, a mention of Bristol, and, of course, South London. We cannot have crime if we cannot have London.

You can tell Arlidge’s TV-centric mind, as this is begging to be turned into a miniseries. Maybe ITV would grab it. My mum would watch this, and so would my mum in-law, partly to pass the time and partly to see familiar landscapes – as it happened with Broadchurch, a few miles away from my in-laws headquarters and with someone’s cousin’s friend or two featuring as extras.

The sequel, Pop Goes the Weasel, is coming up in September. Would I read it? I think I’d pass this time. I may watch it on the telly when there’s nothing left to watch.

Nerdsville Book Club

Charlotte

Isha

Marie 

Ragini

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