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When an off-duty policeman is shot dead in his car it looks at first as though the motive must be something to do with his personal life. His widow seems angry rather than grief-stricken and his daughter has some unexplained bruises. But a few days later a team of officers is attacked while out on patrol and it becomes clear that someone is targeting the police in general. But no-one knows why…or do they? This is the fifth book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and continues the high standard that Jane Casey has set herself in the last couple. It might be possible to read this as a standalone, but there has been a developing story arc which comes to a head in this one, so I would strongly recommend that new readers should read the series in order (starting with The Burning).
Maeve and Josh Derwent are still working as a team and, despite their constant bickering, it’s obvious they’ve learned to respect and trust each other. Derwent is the ultimate male chauvinist pig, but he’s also loyal to the people he cares about and has a strong moral code of his own, not to mention being very funny on occasion – so, like Maeve, the dedicated reader has learned to put up with his sexist taunting, and has grown to like him despite his awfulness. Maeve’s long-term boyfriend Rob plays a small but important role in this one, but in general he’s faded rather into the background in the last couple of books as Derwent has come more to the fore.
Maeve is the same strong and stubborn officer we have grown to love, still with that wicked streak of humour that comes through in the first-person narrative when we get to hear her opinions of those around her. It’s Maeve’s normality that makes her so refreshing – she works well as a team-player, is loyal to her colleagues (sometimes too loyal, perhaps) and tries hard to stay within the rules. One touch that I’ve always enjoyed about these books is her relationship with her mother, carried out mainly over the phone. Although Maeve spends most of her time trying to avoid unwanted maternal advice, it’s still her mother that she turns to when she needs some emotional support, and these occasional little interactions help to show Maeve as a rounded character with strong family roots.
The storyline in this one is strong and well plotted, with different strands that overlap in the investigation. The running plotline about Superintendent Godley is brought to what looks like a possible conclusion, for which I’m not sorry since it’s the one aspect of the books that I’ve had some serious credulity issues with. There are some dark and unsettling moments in the story and Casey writes these very well – she’s great at getting the balance right between the grittiness of the plot and the humour that is such a trademark feature of Maeve’s relationship with Derwent. And there are enough twists along the way to keep the reader guessing till near the end. Altogether, another excellent instalment that ensures this series remains one of my strong favourites. Highly recommended.
NB This book was provided for review by the Amazon Vine UK.