Silent Kill (Maeve Kerrigan 8.5) by Jane Casey

Georgia on my mind…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

When Detective Constable Georgia Shaw is sent to a murder scene, she’s shocked to discover the victim is a teenage schoolgirl. Minnie Charleston had been on the bus for a while, earbuds in and seemingly asleep, while a succession of other passengers took the empty seat beside her. But when one passenger finally noticed blood, it became clear that at some point on the journey she had been stabbed. Georgia will be part of the investigation team, under her sergeant, Maeve Kerrigan, and Inspector Josh Derwent, as they try to discover which of the passengers had a reason to kill Minnie…

This novella length story is very definitely one for existing fans, rather than an entry point for newcomers to the series. Georgia has appeared in the last couple of books, as a fast-track entrant whom Maeve finds irritating and unreliable – not the kind of person you want to depend on when lives are on the line. This time we hear the story from Georgia’s point of view, discovering more about her life and getting a better understanding of why she behaves as she does. Since the books are usually told in the first person from Maeve’s perspective, this is also the first time we get another person’s impression of her, and her increasingly complicated relationship with Josh.

For a novella it’s quite long, and there’s a surprisingly strong plot, with several suspects and a full investigation, all of which I found to be just as good as the plots of the full-length novels. Minnie, it turns out, was an unpleasant girl – a bully and a manipulator. However, as Georgia and Maeve dig deeper into her family circumstances, they begin to see that she may not have been wholly to blame. Left largely to her own devices by uncaring parents, she has got involved with a far-right group, and the detectives have to discover if that has anything to do with the murder. Or there was a teacher she drove to resign from her posh school, or the girl she bullied so badly the girl had to change schools. The solution has a lot of depth considering the brevity and, as always with Casey, the reader has a reasonably fair chance of working it out, although of course I failed!

Jane Casey

I was glad to get to know Georgia better. In fact, I’ve always felt that Maeve treats her unfairly and hasn’t shown the support and guidance a boss should to a younger, inexperienced subordinate. Georgia is perhaps more accepting of this – she clearly admires Maeve, though she resents her too for the effortless way Maeve seems to deal with things that make Georgia anxious. Georgia also has a major crush on Josh, making her rather jealous of his clear preference for Maeve. (What is it with all these female detectives, not to mention the readers? Am I the only one immune to this sexist bully’s charms??) A cold word from Maeve or Josh stings this sensitive girl more than they seem to know, but they should know – it’s their job to know. I grew to like Georgia considerably more, but seeing Josh and Maeve through her eyes made me like them a little less. I expect bullying and insensitivity from Josh, but I can see why Georgia finds Maeve’s behaviour hurtful too. If Maeve realised that the smallest compliment from her is treasured by this insecure young woman, maybe she’d encourage her more often, rather than making her feel like a fool. Time for Maeve’s mother to give her a talking-to in one of their famous phone conversations, I feel!

As usual, Casey has me arguing about the behaviour of her characters, which is why I love these books. Maeve and Josh feel entirely real to me, and so they entertain me sometimes and annoy me sometimes just as real people do. I’m glad to be able to add Georgia to the list of characters I now care about – I’m sure she’ll still annoy me too, often, but I’ll feel more ready to make excuses for her next time she does. I also think it’s good that Casey is bringing forward new recurring characters – something Reginald Hill did to great effect – since it helps to stop the staleness that sometimes creeps into long-running series. In short, this novella is a bonus that fans won’t want to miss!

Book 17 of 20

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39 thoughts on “Silent Kill (Maeve Kerrigan 8.5) by Jane Casey

    • It’s one of the very few contemporary crime series that has kept my attention over many books. I always think her mystery plotting is not dissimilar to Agatha Christie’s although the books are modern police procedural in style.

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    • Haha, why do you think I have spreadsheets? 😉 I think you’ll love it – it’s more like a novel than a short story, with a proper plot. Oh, you and Georgia and Maeve can fight over Josh – I’ll stick with my Darcy! 💕

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  1. I’m really tempted by this series, but take your point that this is not the best place to start. The strong characterisation is really appealing, as I’m not a big crime reader but I do like stories with characters I feel I know and are believable.

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    • Most of the novels could work as standalones, though I do usually recommend reading this series in order to get the character development. But because this is told from the perspective of the one everyone finds annoying, I feel it could put new readers off!

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  2. This does sound good, FictionFan! But, of course, I’m not surprised when a Maeve Kerrigan novel is good… It’s so interesting that this one is told from Georgia’s point of view. That gives an interesting perspective on some of the other characters (reminds me just a tiny bit of what Tana French has done with the Dublin Murder Squad series). And it’s a novella, too. That’s a length that’s enjoying some popularity, and I think it can work really well.

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    • I liked the Georgia viewpoint, but I do think it makes it kinda unsuitable for new readers, since they’d no doubt find her annoying but maybe wouldn’t understand that she’s usually just a side character. I hope Casey goes on bringing new characters more to the fore though – I do think long-running series can run out of steam if they only have one or two characters to concentrate on, in modern fiction anyway, where so much weight is given to the detective’s personal story.

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    • It’s really an excellent series, and it was good for fans to see things from the perspective of a different character. But it’s one I’d usually recommend reading in order to get the full character development.

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  3. I’ve yet to get round to reading this series, but the author clearly knows what she is doing, and it is certainly an interesting idea to allow the reader to see Maeve through the lens of a different character, who herself sounds like something of a pain in the main novels.
    You’re on the home stretch now with the 20 Books of Summer, and it seems to have allowed you to wave goodbye to your reading slump.

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    • Yes, I’m ploughing through the books again now, although I’m still abandoning far more than usual – either I’ve had an unlucky streak of books, or, more likely, my enthusiasm is still a bit fragile. But I’m getting there! Hope you’re getting back to whatever normal is too…

      This really is a great series – I always think Casey’s mystery plotting is quite Christie-ish, though it’s disguised under the format of modern police procedural. But she has proper clues and red herrings and so on buried in there.

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  4. I haven’t read any of these, but I’m going to take your advice and not start with this one. It sounds as if there’s some character development going on with this series, and it’s probably best to get in on the beginning. Glad you enjoyed this one, FF — you’re on a roll!!

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    • Yes, I think most of the full-length novels would work as standalones, but it’s a series I usually recommend reading in order to get the full background to how the main characters have developed. Ha! I am and I’m not – I seem to be loving one, hating one at the moment! Still, much better than being in a slump. 😀

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  5. Haha, I think you are on a mission to get all of us to read this series 😉 Completely agree – it’s a great idea to introduce new recurring characters. More often than not, I eventually lose interest in a series, but new characters as part of the team is one way to keep it fresh.

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    • I am! I should get commission! 😉 Yes, I think it’s really hard to keep a long-running series fresh if you just have one or even two main characters – eventually they become repetitive or storylines get stretched out too long. The Maeve/Josh relationship in this one needs to be resolved one way or another soon…

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  6. I have the first in this series on my wishlist, so maybe someday I’ll get started on it and make it this far.

    These “half” offerings can go both ways. They can be great additions to an existing series (as it sounds like this one is), or they can be pointless. I’m always glad when I can find them free, since they’re often nothing more than a short story.

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    • I love this series, so I hope it works for you when you get to it. Yes, I always have mixed feelings about these add-ons too, but this one really felt more like a short novel to me, than a novella. It was nearly as long as a lot of Golden Age novels, and had a much stronger and more complex plot than this kind of thing often has.

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  7. I can tell these characters really jump off the page, because even your review of them makes it sound like you’re talking about real people! It’s a great way to market a book, it inevitably draws in readers…

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    • Ha, it always makes me laugh that when I post a review of one of these on GR saying that Josh is a sexist bully, I almost always get people commenting to agree or defend him. Clearly I’m not the only one who feels strongly about these characters! 😀

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    • To be honest I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point – I don’t think it would work so well if you didn’t already know the characters. But most of the full-length ones work OK as standalones, I think!

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  8. I’ve never got into police procedural novels, but I love that genre on TV so I don’t know why that hasn’t translated onto the page. This sounds like it might be up my street, though I will take your advice and not start here. It looks my library has almost all the novels from this series – any recommendations about where I should start?

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    • I enjoy contemporary police procedurals – amateur detectives don’t work so well in a modern setting as they did in the Golden Age, I think. The Burning is the first in this series and, while in my opinion it’s not quite as good as her best, it’s still good, and I do think this is a series worth reading in order to see how the characters’ relationships with each other develop over time. By book 2 or 3 she was fully on form, and the standard has stayed really high throughout.

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  9. Going to disagree with you here about Georgia. She wants what Maeve has but without having to work for it.
    Don’t forget in the book before this novella, she sabotaged Maeve by selling those photos of her in the coffee shop with Kelly Lambert to imply impropriety on Maeve’s behalf. It got her kicked off the case.
    She also complain d to Maeve that Maeve could do what she wants and got all the good tasks, despite the fact she’d barely been there for way less than a year and was a DC vs Maeve who’d been in the job for many years and had to work her way up. Maeve did actually try in this novel to be encouraging. She didn’t make fun of her, it was Belcott.
    She admits that hates that Josh paid her no attention (like his reputation for doing so) but does to Maeve. She seeks validation in male attention.
    Absolutely she’s insecure and needs to focus on her work, but she also deliberately likes to be cruel to others, like chapter ten when she comes onto her housemates bf bc her housemate didn’t like her.
    I def feel sorry for her and had guessed it was to do with her mother, but her behaviour has been pretty crappy. If anything in this novella Maeve is way nicer to her.

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    • I do agree with all you say, except that I feel that as her supervisor, Maeve ought to have made more of an effort to support her right at the beginning, and instead of being cold to her, should have an open conversation about her concerns about Georgia’s work. I’m not sure Georgia will ever make a good officer, but I think back to the support Maeve herself got from Godley – would she have become as good as she has without that early encouragement? Haha, I love that these characters provoke such strong feelings in us all though – I don’t know of another series where we all get so involved! Thanks for popping in and commenting – I enjoyed reading your opinion. 😀

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