Written by Jane Casey — Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan last made an appearance on this site more than two years ago, in a two-star review of The Kill, which I was surprised to discover was written by me! Oddly, in Let The Dead Speak, I felt like I was meeting her for the first time – must have blanked the previous acquaintance from my mind.
So it is with something of a clean slate that I approached newly-promoted Detective Sergeant Kerrigan at the start of this book, number seven in the series. Maeve is hoping for a little settling-in time to get used to her elevated status in the London Metropolitan Police, and for other members of the team to do the same. No such luck.
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns home early from a weekend away in the country at her father’s to find the house covered in blood and there’s no sign at all of her mother, Kate. All the signs point to murder, but with no body Kerrigan and her team are at something of a disadvantage. At first glance, Kate appears a resourceful woman, running her own business, fighting the corner for her beautiful, mentally challenged daughter. As the investigation deepens, however, a very different picture starts to emerge.
Though apparently a successful businesswoman, Kate has very little in the way of savings. And is Chloe as disingenuous as she seems? She is good friends with the neighbour’s daughter, Bethany Norris, who is a few years younger and has led a sheltered existence in the overweening care of ultra-religious parents. It seems the Christian thing to do for the Norrises to take Chloe in – but could they have ulterior motives? Just when it starts to feel like the police are getting somewhere, Casey chucks in another viciously sneaky twist and sets things on a different course.
I really enjoyed the police procedural aspects of this book, seeing the progress of the team members working in the background (and often coming up with the goods). But set centre stage is Kerrigan herself, helped – or perhaps hindered – by long-standing adversary/ally/friend/enemy DI Josh Derwent and, brand new to the party, DC Georgia Shaw. The former is a character well known to followers of this series, and in some ways he appears to have mellowed, perhaps prompted by a new relationship and young stepson. The old misogynist still appears occasionally, but these days Kerrigan is more than equal to the challenge. Adding a green-as-grass newbie to the mix is a masterstroke by Casey, because Shaw brings out the best and worst in everyone and her very presence is a disaster waiting to happen.
We’re led along many a garden path before there’s any semblance of a solution to the conundrum that comprised Kate Emery’s life and death. Prepare for some scenes of high drama and a bundle of shocking revelations before you reach the final acknowledgements in a book that never lets the tension slide.
Lovers of the twisty, tension-filled police-based thriller have had a field day this week, with both Sarah Hilary and Jane Casey producing new additions to their popular series. Both feature a female detective, both are set in London, and both keep the reader on their mettle from the opening sentences. A while ago, I mused on a literary mashup between Harry Bosch and John Rebus. I’d now like to throw the names of Maeve Kerrigan and Marnie Rome into the ring. Now there’s a pair of feisty females who could give the curmudgeonly old timers a run for their money!
CFL Rating: 4 Stars