Truth or Dare by M.J. Arlidge

I’ve heard such a lot about M.J. Arlidge’s writing that, although I’m trying not to take on blog tours, I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this one for Truth or Dare! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to participate and to the publishers for sending me a copy of Truth or Dare in return for an honest review which I’m delighted to share today.

Published by Orion on 24th June, Truth or Dare is available for purchase through the links here.

Truth or Dare



A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .


My Review of Truth or Dare

The city is in a crime freefall.

My goodness. I confess for much of the first half of Truth or Dare I didn’t have a clue what was going on or how the narrative would be resolved. This is not a criticism, but is testament to the skill of M.J. Arlidge in manipulating his reader and placing them in a similar position to Helen Grace as she struggles to solve the increasing cases of murder and crime in Southampton. I thought this technique was absolutely brilliant. Every time I thought I’d cracked the cases and had found the links between the different crimes something would cause me to readjust and place me back at square one – just like Helen. Obvious connections become severed and reconnected, prime suspects vacillate throughout, and the machinations of those who should know better mean that Truth or Dare is a completely addictive and compelling read. In fact, reading Truth or Dare felt akin to looking at an Escher painting where you think you know what’s going on but it isn’t quite the truth.

Part of this effect is achieved through the use of pronouns he and she at the start of chapters so that the reader isn’t immediately sure which character they have in front of them. Add in short, fast paced chapters with a daily plot structure and Truth or Dare is a thrilling story. It comes as no surprise to me to discover that M.J. Arlidge has worked in television as the episodic nature of Truth or Dare would transfer brilliantly to the small screen. There’s just enough descriptive prose to create a vivid image without slowing the pace too, so that I found it a perfectly balanced story. In the second half of the book I had to stop reading occasionally to allow my pulse time to slow. There’s such an adrenalin rush in following Helen through her investigations and the ending of Truth or Dare has made me desperate for the next book in the series.

Although Truth or Dare is part of a series, it works perfectly as a stand alone book. I haven’t read the previous books and didn’t find myself at a disadvantage at all. Helen’s persona and relationships are brilliantly woven into this story giving me all I needed to know to understand her without compromising the speed and excitement of this tale. Truth or Dare has, however, made me want to go back and discover all M.J. Arlidge’s previous writing because I enjoyed this narrative so much.

The character who had the most impact on me, however, was Joseph Hudson. I loathe unfairness and corruption and his actions throughout Truth or Dare absolutely enraged me. M.J Arlidge is such a skilled writer that he invoked a visceral response in me as a reader. I’d have happily climbed into the pages of the novel and caused Joseph Hudson physical harm. He wasn’t simply a character in a book, but so very real, contemptible and controlling that he made my blood boil.

It’s difficult to say too much about themes in Truth or Dare without spoiling the story but there are so many layers that include various forms of control, guilt, obsession, relationships and so on that make it astute, addictive and action packed.

I thought Truth or Dare was excellent. It’s compelling, exciting and terrifying. I loved it!

About M.J. Arlidge

M. J. Arlidge is the international bestselling author of the Detective Helen Grace Thrillers, including Hide and SeekLittle Boy BlueLiar LiarThe Doll’s HousePop Goes the Weasel, and his debut, Eeny Meeny, which has been sold in twenty-nine countries. He has worked in television for many years.

For further information, find M.J. Arlidge on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @mjarlidge.

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