Lady Cordelia #CBR5 Review #41: Poppet by Mo Hayder

imagesI would clearly be the worst person in the world to be faced with some kind of survival situation.  Though I knew there was only one more Jack Caffery novel left unread, I gorged myself on it straight after finishing the second to last.  Now I have the looong wait with everyone else until the next.

One thing that reading a back catalogue of published works in quick succession does is highlight the similarities and differences between novels in an obvious way.  I found Poppet to be quite different to all the previous Caffery novels, in both story and structure.  The story is more verging on horror than purely detective.  Set in a creepy mental institution (is there any other kind?) the story follows a shared hysteria infecting both patients and staff around an entity known as the Maude.  Thought to be the ghost of a previous administrator, this creature has been seen prior to a number of patient deaths.  These chapters are narrated by one of the hospital staff, AJ LeGrande, who eventually approaches Detective Inspector Caffery to involve him in the mystery.  AJ believes that a recently released patient is the true culprit and worries that he will soon return to his deranged and murderous behaviours on the outside.

I found this to be an interesting story, though different to what I had expected.  Having a bulk of the narrative taken away from our detective hero does open the story up for greater development, but made Caffery feel to be on the edge of the investigation.  There are also some ongoing narrative threads from previous books here, still slooowly playing out towards their conclusion, so this novel really does not work as a standalone.  I think this story will be appreciated by existing Hayder fans but would not be a good start point for a new reader.

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