March 28, 2021

Perfect Little Dolls

Perfect Little Dolls

by Karen Long

Published January 18, 2021
by Bookouture

Rating: 3 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

The little boy played with his toy trains in the bedroom, keeping quiet so as not to wake his mother. He stayed silent as he watched his window creaking open and heard the whisper from outside. A minute later, Tommy and the trains were gone.

An unrelenting heatwave sweeps the country and starts a fire which uncovers the charred remains of a young woman. But when DI Eleanor Raven attends the post-mortem it reveals some disturbing details—the girl was dead long before the fire, her body had been lovingly preserved before being dressed up, her hair perfectly arranged, and a lime-green scarf knotted around her neck.

With little evidence surviving the fire, Eleanor and her team have no solid leads. But back on duty after six months’ enforced leave, Eleanor is determined to prove herself fit for service, and she won’t accept that this case could prove impossible.

Following a tenuous link to an old missing-persons case, Eleanor discovers the poor woman’s identity: Giselle Baker was a young dancer at a local bar before she disappeared two years ago, leaving behind a worried roommate and, concealed amongst her things, a curious wooden carving of a snake. Before Eleanor can uncover the significance of the toy though, another woman goes missing, and then, a little boy… It seems that someone is collecting a family for themselves.

As Eleanor battles her own demons, she pushes herself to the limit to find the killer. But her fight to save his last innocent victim may become a battle to save herself…

My Thoughts

I did not realize this was a second book in the Detective Eleanor Raven series (previously published as “The Vault”), so first I will separate out why this did not lend itself to being a stand-alone book:

  • –There was a lot of backstory from the first book that I was able to deduce – something horrific happened to Eleanor (not clear whether it was while on duty or not until later in the book).
  • –Her partner is requesting a transfer – possibly due to feelings from his rescuing her from whatever event it was or possibly from her changed behavior after the event.
  • –Eleanor has some physical injuries related to the event, but seemingly some psychological ones as well.

I also felt there were way too many characters to keep track of; this might be helped by the gradual character build you would obtain reading the first book. They were also called by both their first and/or last names, further confusing me.

Notes on the themes and setting in the book (some spoiler alerts).

  • –This was a dark novel. I thought the handling of the BDSM scenes was well done and contributed to the plot.
  • –The descriptions of necrophilia made me cringe, although they too contributed to the storyline.
  • –It took me a while to figure out that this book was set in Canada – the only clue was that the temperature was related in Celsius. But the dialect seemed a mashup, and the setting wasn’t well defined.
  • –The processes behind embalming and especially the procedure used in the book were well researched and interesting.
  • –The book was fast paced, definitely tense at parts, and the author connected all the dots at the end, making for a thrilling ending.

If you are already a fan of this author you will enjoy this book; if you haven’t read her works before, I recommend starting with the first book, Cry for Mercy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to read this advanced reader’s copy.

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