The Cutting Place (Maeve Kerrigan 9) by Jane Casey

Boys will be boys…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

When a mudlarker finds bits of a body washed up on the banks of the Thames, Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan finds herself with a particularly tricky murder on her hands. The lack of a complete corpse makes identification difficult, and there’s no indication of where the crime may have been committed. However, with the help of her team and a couple of lucky breaks, Maeve is soon on the trail of a secretive all-male club, full of the rich and privileged who use their wealth and power to behave outrageously and get away with it.

This is the ninth in the Maeve Kerrigan series, one of the very few series I have followed all the way through and still look forward eagerly to each instalment. Partly this is because Maeve is such an attractive character – the books are written in the first person from her perspective (past tense) and, while she frequently gets herself entangled in dangerous situations, she is resilient and so remains refreshingly normal with her sense of sometimes wicked humour intact. Partly, too, it’s because of Casey’s skill in plotting. The books tend to concentrate on some aspect of contemporary life – in this one, the issue of male privilege and how it can lead to the sexual abuse of women – but Casey manages to avoid becoming overly polemical or to be too obviously making “points”. And partly, it’s because Maeve is one of the very few fictional female police officers who isn’t constantly having to battle sexual discrimination in the workplace. Maeve and her colleagues, male and female alike, work as a competent team, with the usual banter that takes place in any mixed gender setting but with mutual respect all round. Just like I imagine most real police teams in the 21st century probably behave, in fact. First and foremost, although the plots are by no means cosy, the interplay between the recurring characters keeps the books entertaining, a thing that much of contemporary crime seems to have forgotten how to be.

Maeve now has a new boyfriend, Seth, while Josh Derwent is still with his girlfriend, Melissa, and has settled into the role of father to her young son. But the ongoing will-they/won’t-they tension between Maeve and Josh continues, although Maeve would deny its existence. I have to admit that I am not Josh’s biggest fan – or rather, I love him as a character but don’t particularly admire him as a man. Having started out as a male chauvinist pig of the first order, he has gradually softened as the series has progressed and I know that the vast majority of long-term fans seem to hope that one day Maeve and he will ride off happily into the sunset together. I’m afraid I can’t help being concerned about his controlling and often physically domineering behaviour towards Maeve, which in this book is ironic since part of the plotline concerns a toxic controlling relationship. Personally if I had a work colleague or even a friend who felt that he had the right to question my boyfriend’s exes to see whether the boyfriend was suitable for me, I would not be a happy pixie, but Maeve seems to find Josh’s extreme over-protectiveness and gross interference in her life quite manly and attractive, and so do her fans, so I shall stand in the corner and try not to sulk. Despite my reservations, I do enjoy their banter and the good thing about fictional controlling men, as opposed to real ones, is that they can change over time.

I was delighted that Maeve’s mother puts in an appearance in this one, partly because their relationship is so well done and believable, and partly because it’s such a refreshing departure for a detective to actually have a normal, supportive family at her back.

Jane Casey

I don’t want to say much about the plot for fear of spoilers, but it’s done with Casey’s usual skill, treading close to the credibility line at points but always managing to stay just on the right side of it. Mostly what I love about these books, though, is their sheer readability – the easy flow that looks effortless although I’m quite sure it isn’t, the banter between Maeve and Josh and the wider team, the pacing that relies on a sure and steady reveal of information as the book progresses rather than the ubiquitous and unlikely twists of contemporary crime fiction, and the excellent quality of the writing itself. As always, I found this one pure pleasure to read and now begins the long wait for the next one. Nose to the grindstone, please, Ms Casey! Highly recommended, but if you’re a newcomer, do read the series in order – the character development is a major part of the enjoyment. And then you can come back and tell me which side of the great Josh debate you’re on…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, HarperCollins via NetGalley.

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35 thoughts on “The Cutting Place (Maeve Kerrigan 9) by Jane Casey

  1. When I’ve caught up on Louise Penny’s Gamache series, maybe I’ll start on this one. It’ll be a while. So I’m hoping Ms Casey isn’t too prolific in the meantime 🤔 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great series, isn’t it, FictionFan? I’m not at all surprised that you gave this one five stars. And I’m with you on the whole Josh-and-Maeve thing. They are much better, I think, as colleagues than they would be as a couple. And, although I very much respect the way Casey has let him grow over time, I still don’t think he’d be very good real-life ‘boyfriend material!’ Still, as you say, he is a good character, and this sounds like an well-designed plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! I thought I was the last person left who’d prefer them to remain colleagues and friends! Anyway if they ever do get together the whole will-they-won’t-they tension would be lost and that’s half the fun of them. And what would we all argue about then? 😉 This is a good one – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it when you get to it. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hallelujah! A contemporary crime series which doesn’t feature the struggle between a female detective and sexist male colleagues. This trope has become a real pet hate of mine, there are far more subtle ways of examining feminism, abuse and so on without resorting to that particularly tired, didactic way of writing. Maeve sounds fairly down to earth as a character too, so I’ll give her a try sometime.

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    • Gosh, I know – I’m so tired of the whole sexism in the work place thing. I’m sure it still happens but not everywhere and not all the time! And certainly not all over the public services where it had pretty much gone completely even before I left nearly a decade ago. I prefer these things to be part of the plot too and in this one the plot does look at questions of privilege and abuse in much better ways. I do think this series is great – you’d like Maeve, I think…

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    • I do love that the team seem more realistic than a lot of police procedurals, where I often end up wondering how come most of them have managed to keep their jobs! Haha – poor Josh, he’s improved over the series and he’s a lot of fun as a character, but I must admit I’d be a bit horrified if my (mythical) daughter brought him home as a boyfriend… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have several series I’m trying to catch up on and a couple I’m hoping to begin (not to mention staying current on a few), but it sounds like I’m going to have to add this series to the list. I don’t know if that’s good news or bad. 🙄

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    • Definitely good! 😀 I’ve had to give up on quite a few series over the last few years because it just became impossible, but this is still one I always look forward to. And there’s only nine of them… 😉

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  5. I love this series and do have this one here to read at some point before long. I’ve been a Josh Derwent fan for a long time, though I don’t think that he and Maeve would suit as a couple – better as colleagues. Plus, when that happens – long-term colleagues that end up together, the author has to figure out a bunch of things that sometimes works well and sometimes not so much. We shall see I guess. Loved your thoughts on this one though.

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    • I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking they make better colleagues than they would a couple. Yes, I think it changes the whole dynamic if two characters suddenly become involved, and it gets so messy if they later break up. I think we’d miss the Josh/Maeve banter if their relationship changed. I do wish Maeve could find herself a decent boyfriend outside work though! Hope you enjoy this one when you get to it. 😀

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    • Haha, hopefully finding bits of corpses doesn’t happen to mudlarkers too often! It’s a bot like dog-walking in crime fiction – it always seems to lead to an unpleasant discovery hidden below a pile of leaves… 😱

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know Jane Casey used to be on my list, and then she disappeared, maybe during one of my “too much crime, need to read something different” phases. She’s firmly reinstated and I will have to start at the beginning of the series, because I like to follow story and character developments through, so a while before I get to this one.

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    • As you know, I really struggle with contemporary crime but I always feel these are more traditional in style, although not at all old-fashioned. Past tense, colleagues who get on well and try to stay within the rules, not cosy but not overly graphic, and not so much of the annoying twist ending. I hope you enjoy them if you do manage to fit them in sometime… 😀

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  7. Even though I haven’t read these books, I can already tell you I’m on YOUR side of the Josh debate-overly controlling boyfriends or ex-boyfriends? No thank you, I’d be running in the other direction (and I have!!!).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so glad I found your blog. I recently discovered this series and devoured them all in two weeks. I am obsessed! I’m begging my sisters to read them so we can discuss.
    This novel was fantastic, the best one. I was SO traumatized by what happened with Maeve and Seth. It was so well written, so horrifying! I can’t remember the last time I was so affected by a set of characters.
    It took me a while to warm up to Josh. I thought him kind of bland and cookie cutter at first, but obviously he’s changed. I am torn about him and Maeve. I think it’s obvious from this last book that Josh, at least, is madly in love with Maeve and what’s more, he knows it. She is clueless. What I envision is that Rob comes back into her life. They get back together and are on the verge of getting married, when Josh finally tells her how he feels and asks her not to marry Rob. I can’t see much beyond that.
    Thanks for your blog! There’s so much to look through here. I’m on the hunt for more great mystery series by women writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry for the delay in replying – I’m taking a bit of a blog break at the moment but will be back in regular action soon, so, welcome!

      I’ve loved the Maeve series since it started – it’s rare for me to start a series at the beginning and still be reading it a decade later! I still miss Rob – I feel Maeve made a big mistake there. But I do hope she finds a nice man that her mother and I can both approve of – can’t believe her mum likes Josh! 😉

      I don’t follow an awful lot of series, but here’s a few I recommend, though you may have already read them. Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series was great – it seems to have ended now, but I still hope she might bring it back one day. Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series – I loved the early books, but got a bit fed up with Ruth in the last few. Still has loads of fans though! I also like her newer series – the Stephens and Mephisto books – set in Brighton in the 1950s. Val McDermid’s Karen Pirie series is great – my favourite of all her series over the years. And have you heard of a little-known author called Agatha Christie? She’s very good… 😉

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  9. I never read crime normally and only read this because of lockdown and wanting some distraction so was very pleased to find your post and to read it as a sort of debrief which it was. Thank you I think you covered most aspects of a very enjoyable read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for popping in and for your comment. 🙂 This is a great series, one of my favourites of all time. I find Maeve such an enjoyable character and the plotting has a lovely mix of modern subject matter but with a traditional mystery element behind it.

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