Monday, 29 April 2013

Book Review: Poppet by Mo Hayder

by Mo Hayder
Jack Caffrey #6
Bantam Press UK
5 Stars


The Maude is outside. It wants to come in.

It wants to sit on your chest.

The mentally ill patients in Beechway High Secure Unit are highly suggestible. A hallucination can spread like a virus. When unexplained power cuts lead to a series of horrifying incidents, fear spreads from the inmates to the staff. Amidst the growing hysteria, AJ, a senior psychiatric nurse, is desperate to protect his charges.

Detective Inspector Jack Caffery is looking for the corpse of a missing woman. He knows all too well how it feels to fail to find a loved one's body. When AJ seeks Caffery's help in investigating the trouble at Beechway, each man must face a bitter truth in his own life. Before staring pure evil in the eye.


Mo Hayder is an author who delves deep into the darker recesses of the human psyche, and how much darker are the psyches of patients in a mental hospital, some of them there because they have committed horrendous crimes?

AJ, the head psychiatric nurse doesn't want to know why the patients are here, he doesn't want to know what crimes they may have committed to get incarcerated at Beechway, he treats them all with dignity and respect, no matter what they may have done in the past. When the patients start worrying about being haunted by something called 'The Maude', AJ wants to get to the bottom of things, but things go from bad to worse, with deaths and disfigurements of patients. Is there really something otherworldly that is responsible for the deaths or is the answer somewhere closer to home?

This is the sixth Jack Caffrey book, but don't worry if you haven't read any of the others, this works well as a stand-alone novel and I would say that AJ was our main protagonist here, with a few cameo roles from Jack.

The plot twists and turns like any good mystery should and leaves you guessing right till the end. It's been a long time since I've read a mystery where I hadn't guessed the twist a mile away, here I didn't and I was so pleased to be surprised!

AJ was a wonderful, sympathetic character, trying his best to care for his charges in the face of budget cuts, lack of staff who refused to cover the night shift and an old building that is crumbling around them. I adored AJ's Aunt Patience, who always made him a big breakfast whenever he got home, no matter what time of day it happened to be.

I loved the book, but it took a while to get into the flow of it because it was written in the present tense. That seemed a rather strange choice to write a novel in and I was conscious of the tense most of the way through the novel, whereas with most books in the past tense, you don't seem so aware of it. Or maybe that's just me.

Highly recommended for any fans of dark, psychological thrillers.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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