Poppet by Mo Hader

poppetSomeone, or something, is causing patients to harm themselves at the Beechway High Security Unit. The patients believe that the ghost of a long dead dwarf is responsible, but A. J., the senior nursing coordinator, is looking for a more earthly cause. His suspicions fall on a recently released young man, Isaac, who was found guilty of killing his parents 10 years ago. A.J. continues to investigate these odd incidents against the wishes of his boss Melanie. She just wants the problem to go away and since Isaac has been released from her hospital, she believes the problem is no longer hers to worry about. Complicating the issue is the fact that A.J. and Melanie have recently become involved with each other. When A. J. discovers that Isaac is following him and Melanie, he enlists the help of inspector Jack Caffrey despite Melanie’s insistence he not involve the police.

Caffrey is also working on an unsolved crime, that of a young woman who went missing over a year ago. Caffrey’s boss is ready to scale back the investigation, but he is not ready to let go. He understands all too well the feelings of the young woman’s mother, who cannot lay her daughter to rest when she has no body to bury. Caffrey has been haunted by the disappearance of his brother years ago.

Hayder has written a host of wonderful characters into her new book. The inmates at the hospital are very creepy, but not unrealistic or unsympathetic. A. J. is such a likeable character you are rooting strongly for everything to work out for him. I was also very happy to see Flea, the police diver, return. She is one of my favorite characters in the last few years. Hayder left much unresolved between Caffrey and Flea in her previous books, Skin, and Gone, so it is good to see them working together again.  Start with Ritual if you’d like to hear their entire story.

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