Tag Archive | Mo Hayder

Ritual

ritual-pbkHaving enjoyed Poppet so much I thought I would read all Mo Hayder’s Jack Caffrey thrillers. I like to do things in order.

I feel a bit mixed about Ritual. It was a good thriller. I enjoyed the plot and thought it was well handled, keeping the identity of the killer hidden until the very end. Caffrey has transferred from London to Bristol and his first case is a hand recovered from the harbor. The coroner confirms that the owner of the hand was alive when it was cut off and may still be alive. All the pieces are skillfully woven together so that you only see the whole, gruesome picture at the end.

Caffrey is working with Flea, the police diver, and the events that are between them in Poppet begin here. So, it was nice to start to piece that story together as well and I like the connecting thread between the books. There is also a little bit of follow up to the actions Caffrey took at the end of Birdman and the impact on him that has had. Rather than being a series of individual thrillers connected only by the central character, like the Reacher series, it has the feel of episodes in a series building up to something bigger.

There was one thing that bothered me though. The Jack Caffrey in this book didn’t seem like the same character as in Poppet, Birdman or The Treatment. Some of that was physical characterization. After reading those three books I had an image in my head of Caffrey as tall and blond. In Ritual, Hayder describes him as dark-haired. That might be inconsistent, or it might be me misremembering. The tall thing is more clear-cut though. In this book, Hayder repeatedly describes Caffrey as tall. Then she describes him through Flea’s eyes as being medium height. It really bothers me and I’m not sure why.

Overall, it was alright. I did enjoy it, but perhaps not as much as some of the others.

The Treatment

200px-ThetreatmentThe Treatment is the second in Mo Hayder’s Jack Caffrey series. Caffrey is still obsessed with the paedophile next door and the mystery of what happened to his brother all those years ago.

Caffrey gets a case that seems a little too close for comfort. A family is held prisoner in their own home for a weekend. No one notices because they were supposed to be going on holiday. Instead, the mother is restrained and locked in a cupboard, the father is restrained on the landing while the son is abused. Then the perpetrator takes the child out of the house and is seen by a passerby. The police sweep the area but can’t find anything.

Whilst investigating this case, Caffrey is also trying to work out what happened to his brother. The cases are linked and Caffrey gets information that takes him out to a remote farm in Suffolk. Some of his actions are ill-advised and Caffrey is risking his job to pursue his obsession.

An extra complication is that Caffrey is dating one of the women that was a victim in the last book, Birdman, and she’s dealing with her experiences in a very public way. His secrecy and obsession with his brother isn’t making things between them better.

The plot twists and turns and the killer is hidden in plain sight. There are a few plausible candidates and Hayder shows how easy it can be to miss what is really going on. I wasn’t keen on the heavy-handed use of dialect for the character of Caffrey’s boss but that was the only thing that spoilt my enjoyment of the book. The resolution of all the plot lines was brutal and I found it very affecting.

Birdman

birdman-re-issue-november-21Birdman is Mo Hayder’s debut novel and the first to feature Jack Caffrey, a handsome yet troubled detective. I enjoy a thriller and Mo Hayder is easy to read. Which should not be confused with easy to write.

Someone is murdering women and sewing live birds into their chests. Disturbingly, Hayder is able to present several plausible suspects. There’s a lot going on in the book aside from the investigation; there’s Caffrey’s struggle with the unresolved disappearance of his brother, and his overlapping romantic relationships. The plot is handled well and the real murderer is introduced early and hidden in plain sight.

Caffrey’s resolution of the crimes opens up some questions for the reader. Caffrey takes a personal path that might feel very satisfying of a need for retribution, for terrible crimes to receive terrible punishment. Birdman is a blend of horror and thriller and it is the horror ending we’re presented with; the evil that has risen is wiped out of existence. Only then can we sleep safe in our beds. But Caffrey is an officer of the law; he’s meant to serve it, not take it in his own hands. It’s an uncomfortable presentation of what a person might do when their sense of right and wrong is complicated. On reflection, this is a more thoughtful book that it appears, and I enjoyed it a lot.

 

Poppet

Lately the urge to review books has sprung up again. I’ve read some good stuff lately (and some not so good stuff) and I’d like to record it.

So, first up is Poppet by Mo Hayder. I’ve only read one of her books before, Pig Island, and it was ok but not great. What really made me want to read this book was the cover art. I saw a couple of posters on the tube and it stuck in my mind. It is arresting. ImageI love the face of the poppet. It’s creepy but also kind of beautiful. (I’ve just put the picture in the post and I can’t stop looking at it).

Poppet is the seventh of Hayder’s Jack Caffery series. I haven’t read any of the others but it doesn’t matter because Caffery is only one of several POV characters. The main character is AJ, who works in an institution for the criminally insane. Two of the inmates die and some others harm themselves in horrific ways. It is initially set up as a supernatural horror, but then segues into the horror of what other people do to each other. That’s my favourite kind.

To start with the patients are afraid of the ghost of a former matron who punishes the wicked with biblical quotes and does horrible things to them. AJ is annoyed with himself for starting to believe this stuff and decides to get to the bottom of it. His investigation points to one of the inmates, who makes poppets of the inmates and staff, who has horrible personal habits, and who murdered his parents in an especially gruesome manner. This inmate is released and AJ goes to the police, fearing he will try to kill the head of the institution.

Jack Caffery is working on a missing person case that a colleague has covered up and is trying to find a way to give closure to the family whilst protecting his colleague. His boss insists he takes this case but it’s so weird that doesn’t take it as seriously as he should. The actual evil is something else again and Hayder puts in a couple of other plausible red herrings before the big reveal.

I’m so glad I picked it up. This is a better book than Pig Island in terms of characterisation and writing. It is an equally easy read but is more gripping. The twists and turns are exciting and surprising, yet make complete sense in the context of the book. I liked it a lot and will read more of her books.