POPPET by Mo Hayder


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DI Jack Caffery, of Avon and Somerset’s Major Crime Investigation Team, must figure out what agents—living or dead, human or supernatural—are behind the epidemic of violence at Beechway psychiatric unit.

Senior nursing coordinator AJ LeGrande never expected moonlight and roses at Beechway, but the recent toll has been disturbing indeed. Four years after Pauline Scott, an anorexic patient who was convinced someone was sitting on her chest, was found dead, another patient, Zelda Lornton, has died 12 days after cutting herself, and something has encouraged Moses Jackson, not a patient to be trifled with, to scoop out his own eye. Suspicion naturally falls on Isaac Handel, who’s been committed to Beechway since killing his parents 15 years ago. But once AJ calls in Caffery (Hanging Hill, 2012, etc.), it’s already too late to question Isaac, who’s been unaccountably transferred to a group home from which he promptly vanishes. Even more menacing is the possibility that the cause of all this mayhem is The Maude, the ghost of a dwarf whose death over a century ago may not have kept her from continued malevolence. AJ, besotted by his recent discovery that distant, oh-so-proper Beechway director Melanie Arrow is quite the firecracker between the sheets, is hardly in the best place to make sense of the web of delusions and violence past and present. And Jack’s investigation is hampered by the fact that two different players are covering up two different crimes on behalf of two different siblings. So it’ll be something of a miracle if the mystery can be solved at whatever human cost.

More jittery than suspenseful, but the complications are authentic and conscientiously worked out. If this installment doesn’t win new fans, it’ll keep the old ones happy.

Pub Date: April 30th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2107-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2013


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