Bet Your Life (Jess Tennant 2) by Jane Casey

Quality crime writing for any age…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

bet your lifeJane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan is one of my favourite detectives – a series which has improved with each new book. I love Casey’s realistic characterisation and strong plotting, and although the storylines are dark, Casey’s trademark humour lifts them, making the books considerably more enjoyable than the majority of grimy, gloomy books that are filling the crime shelves at the moment. Now Casey is alternating the Kerrigan books with the Jess Tennant series for Young Adults, and she brings all the same hallmarks of quality to these.

After her experience in the first book in the series, How to Fall, Jess has developed a bit of a reputation in the small coastal town of Port Sentinel as someone who can get to the truth of a problem. So when Seb Dawson is found badly injured after a Hallowe’en party, his little sister, Beth, asks Jess to investigate. Jess is reluctant, partly because she doesn’t want to cross swords again with the local police inspector Dan Henderson, Will’s dad. But when it looks as though the police are going to write the matter off as an accident, Jess can’t accept this and so her investigation begins…

The first thing I have to say is that this book is not aimed at me. I ceased to be a Young Adult many moons ago, and I must admit that any time I read a YA book I feel a) tremendously old and b) thrilled to bits that I’m not sixteen any more and never will be again. Having made that disclaimer, I still find these books more enjoyable than most of the ‘adult’ crime I read, and that’s down to Casey’s story-telling skills.

Jess is developing nicely in this second outing. She’s just as strong and obstinate as she was in the first book (and still gorgeous, of course) but she’s beginning to show a level of sensitivity to other people’s feelings that I felt was lacking last time round. In How to Fall her motto seemed very much to be ‘the truth at all costs, no matter who it hurts’, but she’s now beginning to understand that sometimes some truths are better left hidden. This doesn’t stop her wanting to get to the truth, but it makes her a more nuanced character, and more likeable. My other slight disappointment in How to Fall was that in the end the hero had to step in to save her. This time though, Jess takes more control and, although she does end up in peril, it’s not really through her own headstrong foolishness and she doesn’t wait around for some strong, silent male to come to the rescue.

Jane Casey
Jane Casey

But, for any YAs who read the first book and are now worried, fear not! Will is back in all his hot but moody glory. And we have a love triangle with Will’s equally hot old friend/enemy Ryan trying to win Jess’s affections. (I vastly prefer Ryan’s humorous approach to Will’s moody one myself – but I suspect that’s age-related!)

The storyline starts off looking as if it’s going to be about bullying again, but gradually becomes much darker. Hard-hitting, it addresses issues that are very relevant to young people – difficult to specify without spoilers, but involving questions of drinking, peer pressure, misuse of power and sex – and although handled sensitively, Casey doesn’t pull her punches. So definitely more for the older YA audience, I would suggest – perhaps from about 14 up? And the whole love triangle thing means it’s going to work better for girls.Highly recommended, and not just for YAs. The quality of the plot and writing make this an enjoyable read for Old Adults too. (Though personally I find Maeve Kerrigan’s Rob much hotter than either Ryan or Will. 😉 )

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Children’s.

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25 thoughts on “Bet Your Life (Jess Tennant 2) by Jane Casey

  1. FictionFan – I think it really takes talent to create more than one good series (If we’re being honest, it takes talent to create even one!). I’ll confess that I haven’t tried Casey’s YA series, but I do like her Maeve Kerrigan (Should do a spotlight on one of those novels, methinks). Of course that means I can’t compare the hotness of the men involved 😉 , but it does give me a great start for trying some more YA.


    • I’ve just had a sharp rap on the knuckles from a fellow Amazon reviewer who feels that Josh Derwent Is the really hot one! Maybe we should run a poll… 😉

      It would be great to see a spotlight on one of Casey’s novels – I’m sure there’s still loads of crime fans out there who haven’t come across her yet, especially outside the UK.


  2. If I were the type to read thrillers, I think I’d try this one–interesting review. When
    my granddaughters were living in London last year, they’d refer to the boys as “fit”.
    I assumed that meant ‘hot’. That was from their YA viewpoint I guess.


    • Yes, I think Will and Ryan are both fit as well as being hot! Funnily enough, from my ancient recollection, most 16-year-old boys were a bit scrawny and pimply – how things must have changed! 😉


    • Then I really recommend Casey if you haven’t come across her yet. The first in the Maeve Kerrigan series is The Burning, which was fairly good – but the series has got better and better as it’s gone along. 4 books and a novella to date.


  3. I’m glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. I can see the way this is shaping up to be a trilogy, but I shall be sorry if she doesn’t find a way to take Jess forward somehow or another. She’s too good a character to lose.


    • Selfishly, I’d rather see her concentrate on Old Adult fiction – maybe not get stuck in a complete rut with Maeve though. I enjoy the Jess books, but do find all the boyfriend stuff palls a bit. That’s not a cirticism of the books – I think she does it very well and it’s realistic for the age range – but I’m not quite in that age range any more! However you did suggest at one point that Jess should be allowed to grow up into adult fiction, and I’d be happy to see that happening.


  4. I haven’t read either of the Jessie Tennant books but I’m intrigued by the hot and moody Will 😉 Jane Casey proving her talent by pulling off two series for differing audiences… I can’t wait for the next Maeve Kerrigan 🙂


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