4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful, contemporary, surreal crime fiction - disturbing.,
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This review is from: Poppet: Jack Caffery series 6 (Hardcover)
Poppet has all of the usual Mo Hayder trademark scares. Nightmare scenarios, surreal characters and bizarre situations offset against the jaded, flawed characters of Jack Caffrey (police) and Flea Marley (police search and rescue diver). This time Mo uses a psychiatric hospital as the main backdrop for her plot and has added almost every 'traditional haunted house' theme imaginable. There are long, dark corridors, rooms full of the dangerously mentally ill, odd noises and smells mingling with a sense of fear from the staff and patients. Superbly dark and Gothic. Add to that something rather horrible seemingly haunting the hospital and you're nowhere near meeting up with the 'Poppets'. Flea's job of search and rescue diver allows her into dangerous places and there are toe curling moments as she submerges herself in deep, filthy water to retrieve a certain something she left behind in a previous novel.
Flea's in a state of extreme anxiety for most of Poppet and it's Caffrey causing the tension. Caffrey is much more subdued, almost calm, as he intentionally guides a missing person investigation in the wrong direction, away from someone who matters to him. Caffrey's calm persona can't last for long and a series of reveals opens up an investigation into conspiracy, murder and nightmare characters linked to the psychiatric hospital.
There's plenty of tension, lots of 'nasty/creepy' and some decent police investigation in Poppet. I'm a fan of Mo Hayder's surreal mystery fiction and have read all of her novels but; I'm just slightly disappointed by this one. Poppet's a little bit random and doesn't always flow. I had a vague feeling Caffrey and Marley were thrown into a plot not originally intended for them. They're in the background and much more involved in past events than current ones. The other characters are stronger and more important to the plot movement. That's just a personal insight and maybe I noticed it more because I've read all the other Caffrey books. I'm still happy to give a 4* review and wouldn't have missed out on reading Poppet.
Poppet works as a stand alone but; if you haven't read the other Jack Caffrey novels, especially Gone, you'll miss out on some elements of the plot. Mo Hayder does a good job of filling in the gaps but there's a lot of back history missing particularly the relationship between Caffrey/Marley and there's no explanation of the mystery around Caffrey and his own long lost brother. The Walking Man is also missing apart from a vague reference near to the end about smoke rising from a distant fire. I don't know why that's been included. Completely lost on anyone who hasn't met the Walking Man in previous novels.