This is the 8th book in the Helen Grace series and I have to say I think it’s one of the best. And if you’ve read my thoughts on its predecessors you’ll know that I’ve loved them all.

Down to the Woods sees D.I. Grace and her team tracking a rather sadistic killer who hunts his victims through the atmospheric New Forest, and as usual Arlidge leads us down several paths that lead nowhere along the way. I enjoyed these twists and turns, and for the first time in quite a while, I really loved playing a game of guess who. In fact this book made me enthused about reading in a way that I haven’t felt in quite a while; not that I’d realised I’d lost it until the slow flickering bursts of enjoyment started igniting once I’d settled into the story.

Anyway, Helen Grace is right up there amongst my favourite detective characters, and it is always good to see how Arlidge develops her in every book. In Down to the Woods she seems much more settled, almost, dare I say it, happy. I’m not saying that this wouldn’t stand up as a stand-alone read, it would of course, but, if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you would, I feel, get much more out of it. Her history brings a proper insight into her relationships with DS Charlie Brooks, Superintendent Simmons and newcomer to the team, DS Joseph Hudson. These relationships lead you to actually care about the characters, investing yourself in their success and a desire to not see any of them harmed. Not that any of them seemed concerned in keeping themselves out of danger of course.

As I’ve said, there are lots of twists and turns, and the book’s opening sets the scene of fear that continues throughout the rest of the book. It is naturally well-crafted, and kept me glued to it from beginning to end.

Down to the Woods is a cracking read; totally recommended.