I don’t watch out for many new crime novels, but I do watch out for Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan books.
Well, I’ve come to like Maeve and to appreciate her progress of her career and her life over the course of nine books in this series now. She is good at her job, she works well with her colleagues, and she is a little less inclined to rush in without thinking things through now. I appreciate that she is both capable and vulnerable, and that she feels so real that I can easily believe that she is at work in London doing what she does.
The nine cases that I have seen have been diverse, they have been engaging, and they have addressed interesting issues. Some of the stories – including this one – have been a little too dramatic to be true, but the characters, the psychology and the emotions are always right.
This investigation begins when a severed hand is found on the bank of the river Thames. It is established to be the hand of a young woman, more remains are found, and though it seems unlikely that she can be identified every effort is made.
An identification is made, not as the result of that diligence but from a routine DNA check.
The dead woman was a freelance journalist, she lived alone, she was quite solitary, and so she had hardly been missed.
Maeve found that she had had been hard at work on a story about the Chiron Club, the most exclusive private members club, to which only the richest and most privileged men in London could gain admission. She saw signs that there were things much more dark and dangerous than the usual kind of ‘boys will be be boys’ bad behaviour that you might expect in such an institution; but to investigate such a powerful and secretive institution would be far from easy.
The plot is well constructed, compelling and frighteningly authentic.
The details were right, characters and incidents were utterly believable; and when twists came they were in no way contrived, they came naturally out of the story.
That made me feel very close to events; that I was living through everything that happened.
That plot is set against significant developments in the live if Maeve and her colleague, friend and landlord DI Josh Derwent. What happens comes quite naturally out of the history that has built up over past books, and though i saw what was coming to some degree I was also taken by surprise.
I don’t want to say too much about specifics, but this side of the story was every bit as compelling, every bit as well executed as the story of the investigation.
The characterisation of the two characters and their (platonic) relationship is as complex and as realistic as anything I have read in contemporary fiction, and I am so anxious to know what happens next.
(You could read this book as a stand-alone mystery, but I have to recommend going back to the start of the series and reading every book!)
The drama and incident held me to the very last page, and though I wasn’t entirely convinced by they final resolution of the story of the murdered journalist, and though I had spotted something that Maeve didn’t realise was significant until quite late in the day, I was quite prepared to accept that life was fallible and that sometimes people can do things that take you completely by surprise.
I could do that because the story as a whole felt real and authentic and relevant.
I shall be surprised if I read a better piece of contemporary crime fiction this year. And I am already anxious to read Jane Casey’s next book.