After reading "Poppet", the 6th installment of Mo Hayder's Jack Caffrey series, on my vacation this summer, I decided that I was missing out and went back to book #1 to get caught up. I was thrilled to be able to get both "Birdman" (review here) and "The Treatment" on audio, and I blasted through both of them quickly. The first book was really dark, and really horrific. Yet. It has been weeks since I finished this one, and I'm having a hard time writing down my thoughts. I'll bide my time a bit with the synopsis, then we will see if I can verbalize my feelings...
Synopsis: A young boy has been kidnapped after experiencing a horrific few days of being held captive in his home with his mother and father. The parents are hospitalized and are catatonic, and search teams are desperately trying to find the child presumed to be in the nearby wooded area. While Detective Jack Caffrey is technically a member of the murder squad, he is called in to assist because after several days of searching, there is not much hope the child will be found alive.
Unfortunately, this case very closely resembles the long-ago disappearance of Jack's little brother, who was never found. Jack is obsessed with solving this case, seemingly to compensate for the demons and the guilt that haunt him to this day. Unsurprisingly, the case brings him face-to-face with his past, as well as a horrific, unspeakable evil in the form of a nest of sadistic pedophiles.
My thoughts: Well, here we go. If you know me at all, you know I DIG murder mysteries...body parts and psychopaths are my brain candy. I love horror films, and I was raised on Stephen King. I'm jaded as hell when it comes to this genre. But this? It stopped me in my tracks. "Birdman" and "Poppet" were dark and oily and menacing. This took it ten steps further to the grotesque and highly disturbing.
Now I have to backtrack. I love the characters in this series. They are MINE. They are in my heart, and I love them with all their frailties. The writing and plotting are smart, and there are always layers. (I talked about this in my review of "Birdman".) The evil is not one-dimensional - it is spread out in all corners of the novel. It isn't easy to figure out who the Bad Guy is, because often there is more than one. Some are well-hidden and some are right out there in front of your face. This is good, solid stuff here.
But I can't say that I was ready to dive into another Hayder book at the end of this one. Will I read more? Absolutely. For the reasons I just named above, and also because I really cannot imagine her writing another book THIS horrific. The ending made me want to crawl in bed for a week, and I just needed a break. I needed love and warmth and happiness for awhile.
So for that reason, I'll just warn you. If you are jaded and love your murder mysteries bordering on horror...if you don't mind needing to shower after it is all over...then I would HIGHLY recommend this book. If you fall anywhere less than this on the spectrum, then I'd steer clear.
A few words about the audio production: We have a return narrator in Damien Goodwin, who also narrated "Birdman". As I previously stated, he has a wonderful British accent but also hops around to other dialects and accents as well, and does a simply amazing job. I'm sad to say that it appears he does not return in later books in the series. Hmmm...maybe this one smoked him out? I wonder.
Listening length: 13 hours and 44 minutes
4.5 out of 5 stars