Cruel Acts (Maeve Kerrigan 8) by Jane Casey

A thriller, a chiller and a serial killer…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Leo Stone was convicted of killing two women and sentenced to life imprisonment. But now one of the jurors has revealed that the jury broke the rules and as a result his conviction is certain to be overturned when it comes before the Appeals Court. There will be a retrial, but Superintendent Godley wants to make certain that he’s convicted again, so Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan and Detective Inspector Josh Derwent are assigned to reinvestigate the case and to find more evidence if they can. Maeve quickly discovers in the files that there was a third woman who may have been a victim of Stone’s too, but he was never charged with her murder for lack of evidence. Maeve’s sense of empathy for this victim makes her determined to find out the truth of what happened to her too. In the midst of the investigation, after Stone has been released, another woman goes missing…

Well, it’s been a long wait for this latest instalment in Jane Casey’s excellent Maeve Kerrigan series, but this is well worth waiting for. As always, it’s told in the first person (past tense) by Maeve, so that we get her often humorous take on the people around her, especially Derwent. Their relationship has settled into a rather more equal friendship now that Maeve is more experienced, but that doesn’t stop Derwent from lecturing her about her personal life, being over-protective, embarrassing her at every opportunity and generally winding her up. For all that, she knows there’s no-one she’d rather have beside her when things get dangerous.

The other regulars are back too. Una Burt, Maeve’s boss, still doesn’t much like her and the feeling is mutual. Liv appears a bit more in this one – another colleague and Maeve’s best friend. Godley is back, though he plays only a small role. Maeve still looks up to him, but in a more mature way than the hero-worship she felt for him in the early days. And the new girl on the team, Georgia, is back too, just as obnoxious, and just as jealous of Maeve’s success. Followers of the series are doubtless thinking, yes, but what about Maeve’s love life? Is Rob back? Or is there a new man on the scene? Or are Maeve and Josh…? You don’t really expect me to tell you though, do you? 😉

In general, I’m not wild about serial killer stories and helpless females being tortured and killed, but I was right to trust Casey to handle it with her usual sensitivity and good taste. Although women are killed, the reader is not put in the room with them as it’s happening – there’s nothing prurient or gratuitous in the writing; no lengthy descriptions of torture scenes designed to titillate. That doesn’t stop it from being heart-in-mouth thrilling and chilling at points, though. The prologue is wonderfully scary and the thriller ending is tense and dramatic, with several scenes dotted throughout that also had my anxiety levels rocketing.

When it turns out that Leo Stone has an alibi for the time of the latest disappearance, Maeve and Derwent have to consider whether he was innocent of the earlier murders or if there’s a copycat out there. I thoroughly enjoyed the plotting in this one. I didn’t work it out – I rarely do – but all the clues are there. I always think that Casey plots like a Golden Age author, giving the reader a fair chance to do a bit of armchair detecting, although in every other respect her stories and characters are entirely modern.

Jane Casey

I also love that Maeve tries hard to stay within the rules. While her personal life might be a bit complicated, she’s no angst-ridden maverick. The same goes for her colleagues, in fact – they’re probably the most realistic police team I can think of, and while there are petty jealousies and squabbles, they behave overall like the kind of professional force I’d like to think we actually have. The women are not always struggling to be taken seriously by sexist bosses, which delights me since I think it’s such an out-dated image in most of our public services now, and completely overused in crime fiction. Casey simply has men and women working together as a team as if… gasp… it’s normal! But she still allows room for a bit of banter and the occasional flirtation, and she doesn’t feel the need to make the women superheroes or the men weaklings.

While this could easily be read as a standalone, I do recommend reading this series in order to get the full nuances of all the various relationships within the team, and especially to understand Maeve and Josh’s complicated friendship. For existing fans, you’re in for a treat with this one – isn’t it great to have Maeve back? Highly recommended, and I sincerely hope Ms Casey is hard at work on the next one…

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

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….Lanching handed her the Express. The story had made the front page, but more than half-way down. Birdie wrinkled her nose, then gave Grail a pitying look. ‘You poor darling. Below the fold.’
….The account began:

….Burley Glaswegian Charlie Hockley – His Worship to the 14,482 inhabitants of this quiet little market town – today threw to the floor of his Mayor’s Parlour one of the ceremonial white kid gloves that go with his office. The Chief Citizen of Flaxborough was issuing a challenge to a duel – probably the first public ‘calling out’ in this country for more than a century.
….For Mayor Hockley believes that his township has been grossly libelled by a recent article in a Sunday newspaper (not the Sunday Express) and considers it his duty on behalf of his fellow citizens to challenge the journalist responsible and demand ‘satisfaction’. . .
….The mayor is widely believed to have been promised the loan of a pair of authentic duelling pistols together with lessons in their use.
….The man named by Mayor Hockley in his challenge, London columnist Clive Grail, was last night not available for comment.

* * * * *

….In the Rhodian room of the Colossus restaurant in Holborn one long and three shorter tables were set in the form of a capital “E”, and round them were gathered some fifty men and women ranging in age from an exceedingly venerable party with a white beard, who was sleeping fitfully at one end of the top table, down to three young gentlemen of fifteen plus (of a type normally described in police reports as “youths”) who had collected at a point furthest from the eye of the chairman and were engaged in a game of blow-football with rolled-up menus and a battered grape.
….Miss Mildmay looked up as a bread pellet struck her on the cheek and remarked in a clear voice: “If you hit me again with one of those things, John Cove, I shan’t type any more of your private letters for you in office hours.”

* * * * *

….“We will demand of the King,” said Sir Louis Lundin, “my advice being taken, that the body of our murdered fellow citizen be transported into the High Church of St. John, and suitable masses said for the benefit of his soul and for the discovery of his foul murder. Meantime, we shall obtain an order that Sir John Ramorny give up a list of such of his household as were in Perth in the course of the night between Fastern’s Eve and this Ash Wednesday, and become bound to present them on a certain day and hour, to be early named, in the High Church of St. John, there one by one to pass before the bier of our murdered fellow citizen, and in the form prescribed to call upon God and His saints to bear witness that he is innocent of the acting, art or part, of the murder. And credit me, as has been indeed proved by numerous instances, that, if the murderer shall endeavour to shroud himself by making such an appeal, the antipathy which subsists between the dead body and the hand which dealt the fatal blow that divorced it from the soul will awaken some imperfect life, under the influence of which the veins of the dead man will pour forth at the fatal wounds the blood which has been so long stagnant in the veins.”

* * * * *

….‘Two young adventurers for hire. Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good. No unreasonable offer refused.’ How would that strike you if you read it?”
….“It would strike me as either being a hoax, or else written by a lunatic.”
….“It’s not half so insane as a thing I read this morning beginning ‘Petunia’ and signed ‘Best Boy.’” She tore out the leaf and handed it to Tommy. “There you are. Times, I think. Reply to Box so-and-so. I expect it will be about five shillings. Here’s half a crown for my share.”
….Tommy was holding the paper thoughtfully. His face burned a deeper red.
….“Shall we really try it?” he said at last. “Shall we, Tuppence? Just for the fun of the thing?”
….“Tommy, you’re a sport! I knew you would be! Let’s drink to success.” She poured some cold dregs of tea into the two cups.
….“Here’s to our joint venture, and may it prosper!”
….“The Young Adventurers, Ltd.!” responded Tommy.

* * * * *

I sat in the last row of the public benches. Despite its importance, the Court of Appeal was held in a small room, and it was packed. The court reporters were choosy about which cases they covered but this one was a guaranteed front-page splash. A murderer was always news. A murderer of women was even better, especially if the women were beautiful, especially if they had everything to live for, especially if they met a horrible end at the hands of a perverted stranger. But best of all was a gruesome series of murders combined with a miscarriage of justice. That was a story that had everything.

* * * * *

Hmm… crime week, it seems!
So… are you tempted?

TBR Thursday 193…

Episode 193

Well, I’ve had a little influx of books this week, so I must be getting through them too, since the overall increase is just 1 to 231. Surprises me, since I feel as if I’ve done nothing except gaze at the farce put on by our revered and well-paid politicians for weeks now.

Order! Order! Here’s what’s next on the order paper…

Crime

Courtesy of 4th Estate at HarperCollins. This one popped unexpectedly through my letter-box a couple of weeks ago. I always enjoy getting the occasional book sent to me that I haven’t specifically chosen because it kicks me out of my rut. Sometimes they turn out to be great reads – fingers crossed for this one!

The Blurb says: A gripping literary thriller and the first of a new crime series, from the bestselling author of Before We Met.

Detective Inspector Robin Lyons is going home. Dismissed for misconduct from the Met’s Homicide Command after refusing to follow orders, unable to pay her bills (or hold down a relationship), she has no choice but to take her teenage daughter Lennie and move back in with her parents in the city she thought she’d escaped forever at 18. In Birmingham, sharing a bunkbed with Lennie and navigating the stormy relationship with her mother, Robin works as a benefit-fraud investigator – to the delight of those wanting to see her cut down to size.

Only Corinna, her best friend of 20 years, seems happy to have Robin back. But when Corinna’s family is engulfed by violence and her missing husband becomes a murder suspect, Robin can’t bear to stand idly by as the police investigate. Can she trust them to find the truth of what happened? And why does it bother her so much that the officer in charge is her ex-boyfriend – the love of her teenage life? As Robin launches her own unofficial investigation and realises there may be a link to the disappearance of a young woman, she starts to wonder how well we can really know the people we love – and how far any of us will go to protect our own.

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Scottish Classic

Courtesy of Oxford World’s Classics. I know very little about this one except that it always shows up on lists of Scottish classics, and that I mercilessy mocked my brother for years for reading obscure Scottish books like this and he’s now getting his own back. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed the Scottish section of my Classics Club list, so my hopes are high… well, fairly high… though I’ve just read the blurb… maybe I should have done that before I put it on my list… 

The Blurb says: Smollett’s savage, boisterously funny lambasting of eighteenth-century British society charts the unfortunate journey of the gout-ridden and irascible squire Matthew Bramble across Britain, who finds himself everywhere surrounded by decadents, pimps, con-men, raucousness and degeneracy – until the arrival of the trusty manservant Humphry Clinker promises to improve his fortunes.

Populated with unforgettable grotesques and written with a relish for earthy humour and wordplay, and a ferocious pessimism, Humphry Clinker is Smollett’s masterpiece.

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Crime

Courtesy of HarperCollins. Hurrah! A new one in the wonderful Maeve Kerrigan series! It’s been a long wait for this, so hopes are astronomically high…

The Blurb says: Leo Stone is a killer. A year ago, he was convicted of murdering two women and sentenced to life without parole. But now, a juror from his trial has revealed the jury was prejudiced, and a retrial is called.

Detectives Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent are tasked with re-examining the evidence. Before long, they uncover links between Stone and a possible third victim.

But with Stone behind bars, a fourth woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer out there, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start? And will Maeve discover the truth before another innocent victim is killed?

* * * * *

Gothic Horror

Courtesy of Head of Zeus via NetGalley. I loved Paver’s Dark Matter, finding it up there with the very best of classic horror, and was pleased to see my opinion reinforced when it was one of the few modern books mentioned by the illustrious horror expert, Darryl Jones, in his history of the genre, Sleeping With The Lights On. So… no pressure for this one, then, Ms Paver… 😉

The Blurb says: In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father. When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

Maud’s battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father’s past.

Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl’s longing to fly free.

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

Let the Dead Speak (Maeve Kerrigan 7) by Jane Casey

Maeve’s back!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

When Chloe Emery returns home early from a visit to her dad’s new family, she is horrified to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing. Maeve Kerrigan has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, and is called to the scene by Una Burt, who’s still acting head of the team. The sheer volume of blood suggests there’s no hope the victim could have survived, so they’re treating it as a murder case, with the first item on the agenda being to find the body.

I was quite unhappy with the way the previous book ended, with Maeve and Josh turning into typically unbelievable vigilante-style mavericks, so I’m delighted to say that in this one Maeve’s back on track. There are lots of reasons this series stands out from the herd, and one of the major ones is Maeve’s refreshing normality. Of course she’s affected by her experiences, but she’s basically a good cop who works well within a team and tries to stick within the rules as much as possible. And for my money, the books are better when she does.

Now that she’s a sergeant, Maeve has supervisory responsibilities and in this one is looking after the newest team member, Gloria, a graduate entrant. Maeve’s not finding it easy – Gloria’s pretty annoying, ready to feel herself slighted for the smallest reason. But she also seems ready to develop a bit of hero-worship for Josh and Maeve’s horrified to find herself feeling a little bit jealous. It’s professional jealousy though – Maeve is still hoping that she and Rob can get back together, and every girl’s favourite male chauvinist Josh (amazingly!) has his own little family now, having taken on the role of father to his girlfriend’s young son. (My mind still boggles at the idea of him giving the boy dating advice a few years from now!)

Plotting is another of Casey’s major strengths and this one is particularly convoluted. It soon transpires that the street is filled with people with secrets and jealousies, and Kate, Chloe’s mum, seems to have been at the centre of many of them. Chloe is staying with her friend Bethany and her parents, an ultra-religious family who belong to a church that’s not quite a cult, but is tending in that direction. Chloe herself is, perhaps, a bit slow intellectually – certainly her mother had been keen to have her diagnosed as such – but some people think she’s more intelligent than she seems. She’s also physically attractive, all of which makes her vulnerable to any unscrupulous predators she might meet.

Jane Casey

As always, the writing is excellent and there’s plenty of humour to lighten up the tone. It’s narrated by Maeve in the first person, past tense, so that we’re privy to her thoughts and her rather spiky comments about her colleagues. Her relationship with Josh is more equal now that she’s been promoted – he’s still her superior, but she’s no longer the new girl. He’s still just as protective towards her though, which she appreciates even though it annoys her sometimes. And it’s nice to see his softer side peeking through now that he has his little family to humanise him.

This one would work fine as a standalone, though as usual I’d recommend reading this series in order, starting with The Burning, to get the full benefit of the characterisation, and especially the development of Maeve’s unlikely friendship with Josh. Great to have them back in action, and here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long to see them again!

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

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 111…

Episode 111…

Oh, dear, oh dear, oh dear! The TBR has gone up again – how??? I’ve been so strict with myself!!! But I’m still managing to avoid going over the 200 watershed – this week’s total is 198…

Time to get some reading done – quickly! Here are some that are coming up soon…

Factual

a-peoples-tragedyFor the Reading the Russian Revolution Challenge. It’ll be ages before I get to this (I need to get through Trotsky first) but I thought I’d give it a mention now, since The Bodley Head have issued this special centenary edition and kindly let me have a copy. Another 900+ pages – whose idea was this challenge?? But it’s lavishly illustrated so that’s always a bonus… and it’s a nicely designed, good quality paperback with what I think are called French flaps on both the front and back covers.

The Blurb says: Opening with a panorama of Russian society, from the cloistered world of the Tsar to the brutal life of the peasants, A People’s Tragedy follows workers, soldiers, intellectuals and villagers as their world is consumed by revolution and then degenerates into violence and dictatorship. Drawing on vast original research, Figes conveys above all the shocking experience of the revolution for those who lived it, while providing the clearest and most cogent account of how and why it unfolded.

Illustrated with over 100 photographs and now including a new introduction that reflects on the revolution’s centennial legacy, A People’s Tragedy is a masterful and definitive record of one of the most important events in modern history.

* * * * *

Fiction

the cone gatherers 2This one appeared on a TBR post a couple of years ago but I didn’t get around to reading it at that time, and it’s been gazing at me accusingly ever since. So to make it feel better, I stuck it on my Classics Club list under the Scottish section…

The Blurb says:  Calum and Neil are the cone-gatherers – two brothers at work in the forest of a large Scottish estate. But the harmony of their life together is shadowed by the obsessive hatred of Duror, the gamekeeper.

Set during the Second World War, Robin Jenkins’ greatest novel is an immensely powerful examination of good and evil, and mankind’s propensity for both. Removed from the destruction and bloodshed of the war, the brothers’ oblivious happiness becomes increasingly fragile as darker forces close in around them.

Suspenseful, dark and unforgettable, The Cone-Gatherers is a towering work of fiction, a masterpiece of modern Scottish literature.

* * * * *

Crime

the-bishops-girlA couple of years ago, I reviewed Rebecca Burns’ excellent short story collection, The Settling Earth. So when she contacted me to offer a copy of her new novel, I was delighted. I realise the blurb makes it sound a bit like a romance, but I’m reliably informed (by the author!) that it’s actually a historical fiction/mystery…

The Blurb says: The body had no name. It was not supposed to be there…

Jess is a researcher on a quest to give the one-hundred-year-old skeleton, discovered in the exhumed grave of a prominent bishop, an identity. But she’s not sure of her own – her career is stalling, her marriage is failing. She doesn’t want to spend hours in the archives, rifling through dusty papers in an endless search for a name. And when a young man named Hayden makes clear his interest in her, Jess has to decide what is most important to her.

* * * * *

Crime

let-the-dead-speakCourtesy of NetGalley. Woohoo! Maeve Kerrigan is back – and it looks like she’s been promoted! It’s been a loooooooong wait for this one!

The Blurb says: The chilling new crime novel from award-winning author, Jane Casey. When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth… When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else.

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

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After the Fire (Maeve Kerrigan 6) by Jane Casey

Maeve goes maverick…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

after the fireA fire in a block of flats leaves three people dead and one little girl terribly injured. The fire inspectors suspect it may have been arson and, when it turns out that one of the victims was a much-hated politician who had no known reason to be in the building, it looks as though murder may have been the aim. But as Maeve Kerrigan and the team begin to investigate, they discover that many of the residents have secrets, and that there is more than one possible motive for the arson.

This is another strong entry in the Maeve Kerrigan series, with a complex and interesting plot and Casey’s trademark ‘fair play’ – the clues are all there, though the reader will probably only spot them after the solution is revealed. The setting of the block of flats allows Casey to develop several different story strands for the various residents, and she handles them with aplomb, making sure that each is brought to a satisfying conclusion. Two of the victims are women who have been trafficked into the sex trade; one is a lonely old woman, almost a prisoner in her flat because of the constantly-broken lift; another is in hiding with her young son from her abusive husband. Then there’s the extended family who seem to be under the thumb of their elderly matriarch, and who are suspiciously well-off considering none of them seem to have legitimate jobs. Maeve, working again in partnership with Josh Derwent, must try to discover which of them was the target, in case the ‘wrong’ people died and the intended victim might still be in danger.

The running sub-plot regarding Maeve’s stalker also continues in the background, and I fear in this storyline Maeve seems to be turning into a traditional maverick copper, willing to bend or break the rules and use – or instigate – violence even when it seems unnecessary. There’s also a lot more angst in this than in the earlier books, with Maeve’s personal life having taken a nose-dive. In fact, she doesn’t actually seem to have a personal life any more – not even the fun phone messages from her mother. But then, I accept I seem to be in a small minority – of reviewers, certainly, though I’m less sure about the wider group of readers – who prefer their detectives not to be more messed up and violent than the criminals.

For the most part, however, the book concentrates on the main plot regarding the fire, and is at its strongest when it does, with Maeve behaving as the competent, team-playing officer she has always been. Una Burt is now in charge, and she and Maeve are beginning to appreciate each other a little more now that they’re working more closely. Casey is always excellent at characterisation, and not just of the main characters. Each of the residents in the flats is well-drawn – she gives us enough information to make us care about them (or dislike them, as appropriate) without bogging us down in endlessly detailed backstories.

Jane Casey
Jane Casey

The Maeve/Josh relationship is developed further, becoming something that feels almost dark as Maeve leans more and more heavily on this bullying, sexist, macho man, who is the only person she confides in, and who seems to have appointed himself her guardian and watchdog, telling her how to run her life outside work as well as in. I’m not at all sure where Casey is heading with it (hopefully not towards romance!), but it’s intriguing, especially the way Maeve appears to be allowing him to control her. He seems as much of a stalker as her stalker at points, but at least this means he’s always at hand to rescue her from the difficulties she’s constantly getting herself into. In their lighter moments, however, the pair still provide the humour that lifts the tone of the book and keeps it an enjoyable read despite the darker and more maverick elements.

Overall, another strong outing that I am sure most fans will thoroughly enjoy. Because of the running storylines I would suggest that anyone new to the series should read them in order, starting with The Burning.

Book 1 of my 20 Books of Summer
Book 3 of my 20 Books of Summer

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

Five of the Best!

FIVE 5-STAR READS
MARCH

SMILEYS

Each month this year, I’ll be looking back over my reviews of the past five years and picking out my favourite from each year. Cleo from Cleopatra Loves Books came up with this brilliant idea and kindly agreed to let me borrow it. I was a bit later in starting reviewing than Cleo, really getting properly underway in about April/May of 2011, so for the first few months I might have to be a bit creative in my 2011 selections.

So here are my favourite March reads…click on the covers to go to the full reviews, though it must be said my early reviews were somewhat basic…

 

2011

 

The BurningThis is the first in the Maeve Kerrigan series, though not Jane Casey’s first book. I loved Maeve as soon as we met her – an ambitious young police officer who gets on well with her colleagues and has a great sense of humour. Josh Derwent, who has grown into a major character as the series has progressed, is just one of the team in this book. The real male lead is the lovely Rob, and the budding romance between Maeve and him is handled beautifully. Ah, Rob! I’m worried that it’s all beginning to go horribly wrong between you and Maeve – can’t wait for the next book (After the Fire – due out on 18th June) to find out. Jane Casey has established herself as one of my must-read-on-publication-day-if-not-before authors, and it’s a double treat this year, since her third in the YA Jess Tennant series is due out in August.

 

2012

 

Charles Dickens Theatre CallowI adored this superbly readable and affectionate account of the great man’s life, viewing it from the perspective of how Dickens’ love for the world of the theatre influenced his life and work. Interspersed generously with Dickens’ own words, taken from his correspondence with friends, we get a real feel for his massive personality, his sense of fun, his unstoppable energy and, yes, his occasional pomposity too.

Who better to write such a book than Simon Callow, who has played Dickens so superbly on stage in his one man show? An exuberant and boisterous biography, and a fitting tribute to the affection Callow has for the man and his works.

 

2013

 

fallen landIn this extraordinary book, Flanery delves deep into the troubled American psyche in the post 9/11, post global crash world where the tectonic plates of certainty and complacency have shifted with volcanic and destructive results. Part terrifying psychological thriller/part wonderful literary novel, this book inspired me to start blogging so I could rave about it, won the FF Book of the Year Award for 2013, and my declaration that it should be nominated as the Great American Novel for this decade started off the GAN Quest! So it would be surprising if it didn’t appear as the best of March 2013, really, wouldn’t it? What do you mean you still haven’t read it? Why not???

 

2014

 

the martian coverAfter an accident during a dust storm, Mark Watney finds himself alone on Mars. His colleagues in the Ares 3 expedition believed he was dead and were forced to evacuate the planet while they still could. The communications system was broken in the storm so Mark can’t let anyone know he’s alive. And it’s four years till the next scheduled mission to Mars. I loved this book – more old-fashioned adventure story than sci-fi, really, with a wonderfully likeable protagonist, tons of humour, and a brilliantly depicted setting on the surface of Mars. Can’t wait for the film, nor to see what Andy Weir comes up with next…

 

2015

 

The Shut EyeBelinda Bauer is another of the more recent additions to my must-read list, and her latest novel lived up to my expectations. Little Daniel Buck ran out of his house one morning four months ago and has never been seen since. Edie Evans was older when she went missing several months earlier, nearly a teenager, but the signs are even more sinister in her case, since blood was found beside her broken and abandoned bicycle. Edie’s case still haunts DCI John Marvel, especially since he has convinced himself that she is still alive. Always well plotted, and with great characterisation, what I love most about Bauer’s books is the way she uses some pretty black humour to lift the tone of even the grimmest storylines. Clicking on the cover for this one will take you through to the Petrona Remembered blog, where my review can be found along with a host of great recommendations from other bloggers.

 

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If you haven’t already seen Cleo’s selection for March, why not pop on over? Here’s the link…

FictionFan Awards 2014 – Crime/Thriller Category – Books in a Series

Drum roll please…

 

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2014 in the Crime Fiction/Thriller Category – Books in a Series.

If you’ve been around the last couple of weeks, you might want to skip this bit and go straight to the awards. But for the benefit of new readers, a quick reminder of the rules…

THE CRITERIA

All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2013 and October 2014 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.

THE CATEGORIES

There will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories

Factual – click to see awards

Genre Fiction – click to see awards

Literary Fiction – click to see awards

Crime Fiction/Thrillers – Books in a Series

Crime Fiction/Thrillers – Standalone Novels

 

…and…

Book of the Year 2014

THE PRIZES

For the winners!

I guarantee to read the authors’ next book even if I have to buy it myself!

For the runners-up!

Nothing!

THE JUDGES

Me!

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So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in

 

CRIME FICTION/THRILLERS

 

As usual, there are far more books in contention for this category, and many of them are installments in series that I follow. So, since I found it almost impossible to narrow the entries down, I’ve decided to have two sub-categories of nominees, Series and Standalones, each with a winner, and to split them over today and tomorrow. Here goes then…

BOOKS IN A SERIES

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

 

the killThe Kill (from the Maeve Kerrigan series) by Jane Casey

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.

Click to see the full review

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Saints of the Shadow Bible (from the Rebus series) by Ian Rankin

saints of the shadow bibleWhen the ‘double jeopardy’ law is relaxed, the Solicitor General asks Malcolm Fox to reinvestigate a case from the ’80s, one involving a young DC Rebus. Meantime, in the present day, Siobhan Clarke and Rebus are back working as a team. With the new rules on retirement age, Rebus has been taken back into CID but has had to take a downgrading to Detective Sergeant, meaning Siobhan now outranks him. They are called out to what looks at first like a straightforward road accident, but a couple of things about the scene make them suspect there may be more to it than that. A fine entry in the series that, as always, has great characterisation, a complex plot and a real insight into modern Scottish life.

Click to see the full review

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the papers of tony veitchThe Papers of Tony Veitch (from the Laidlaw series) by William McIlvanney

Tony Veitch has disappeared and it seems like half the city is looking for him. Laidlaw’s one of the searchers. He knows why he’s looking for Tony – his name’s come up in connection with Eck Adamson, a drunk and down-and-out, now dead; and it seems Laidlaw’s the only man who cares. But Laidlaw doesn’t know why some of Glasgow’s hardest men seem to be wanting to find Veitch too, and the question is – who’ll find him first? Glasgow, as the sum of its people good and bad, is the character that is at the heart of the book and McIlvanney makes us weep and rejoice for it in equal measure. A love letter from a man who sees the violence and darkness of the city, but also sees it as a place of courage and heart and humour – and ultimately integrity. A great book.

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

A Dark and Twisted Tide (from the Lacey Flint series) by Sharon Bolton

a dark and twisted tideAfter her recent experiences, Lacey has stepped back from her role as a detective and joined the Met’s Marine Unit, patrolling the Thames. She’s also moved to live on a houseboat moored in Deptford Creek and taken up the highly dangerous sport of river-swimming. And it’s when she’s out swimming alone one early morning that she finds the first body…

This is another excellent entry in the Lacey Flint series, with all the regulars back in fine form. By a tiny margin, not the best in the series perhaps, but still one of the best books I’ve read or expect to read this year.

Click to see the full review

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FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2014

for

BEST CRIME FICTION/THRILLER BOOK IN A SERIES

 

gallowglass

Gallowglass (from the Douglas Brodie series) by Gordon Ferris

Post-WW2 Glasgow. Douglas Brodie is back working at the newspaper and beginning to recover from the psychological after-effects of his recent involvement in the Nazi war-crime trials. But he still hasn’t learned how to avoid danger. So when Lady Gibson asks him for help, he finds himself unable to turn her down. Her husband, Sir Fraser Gibson, the Chairman of the Scottish Linen Bank, has been kidnapped, and Lady Gibson has decided to pay the ransom without involving the police. So Brodie sets off with a briefcase full of cash to make the rendezvous on her behalf. Needless to say, it doesn’t go according to plan..

This is the fourth and, I believe, final entry in the Douglas Brodie series, and the award is as much for the whole series as for this individual book. Now that we have all four books, we can see how Brodie’s character has changed in the few years since the end of the war – at first an all-action man, careless to a degree of his own life and others; then having to face the source of his nightmares and realise the damage that he’d suffered in the war – and finally, in this excellent last instalment, asking himself whether he can find some kind of peace and redemption, and have a future worth living. Although each works as a standalone, I would strongly suggest reading them in order to see the skilful way that Ferris develops Brodie’s character throughout. A great series, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And a very worthy winner.

Click to see the full review

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Tomorrow: The Standalone Award and Book of the Year 2014

The Kill (Maeve Kerrigan 5) by Jane Casey

the killAnother excellent instalment…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

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.

Jane Casey
Jane Casey

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.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 27…

Episode 27

 

Oh, dear! Teetering on the edge with a horrifying 99 on the TBR, so I absolutely refuse to be tempted by anyone for at least the next month. (No, I don’t believe me either.) Here’s a few that are already on the list…

* * * * *

Crime

 

the killThe next instalment of one of my favourite series, the Maeve Kerrigan novels…courtesy of Amazon Vine UK.

The Blurb saysWhen a police officer is found shot dead in his car, DC Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent take on the investigation. But nothing about the case prepares them for what happens next: a second policeman dies . . . and then another . . .

The Metropolitan Police struggle to carry out their usual duties, but no one knows where or how this cop killer will strike again. While London disintegrates into lawlessness Maeve’s world starts to fall apart too. For if the police can’t keep themselves safe, how can they protect anyone else?

* * * * *

Factual

 

ten citiesThe Empire seems to be fascinating me at the moment – maybe it’s because of the Scottish Independence debate – so thanks to NetGalley for this one…

The Blurb says “Ten Cities that Made an Empire presents a new approach to Britain’s imperial past through the cities that epitomised it. The final embers of the British Empire are dying, but its legacy remains in the lives and structures of the cities which it shaped. Here Tristram Hunt examines the stories and defining ideas of ten of the most important: Boston, Bridgetown, Dublin, Cape Town, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Bombay, Melbourne, New Delhi, and twentieth-century Liverpool.Rejecting binary views of the British Empire as ‘very good’ or ‘very bad’, Hunt uses an exceptional array of primary accounts and personal reflection to chart the processes of exchange and adaptation that collectively shaped the colonial experience – and, in turn, transformed the culture, economy and identity of the British Isles.

* * * * *

Fiction

 

Summer HouseOh dear! I really intended to read Koch’s big hit, The Dinner, before this one, but the best laid plans…thanks again to NetGalley for this one.

The Blurb saysIt all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier’s extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer’s tragedy.

Featuring the razor-sharp humor and acute psychological insight that made The Dinner an international phenomenon, Summer House with Swimming Pool is a controversial, thought-provoking novel that showcases Herman Koch at his finest.

* * * * *

Sci-fi

 

the very best of fantasy and science fictionCourtesy of NetGalley again – the Very Best, huh? Sounds just the thing for Transwarp Tuesday!

The Blurb saysThe magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction continues to showcase some of the most famous authors writing in any genre. Now drawing upon F&SF’s impressive history of classic and contemporary tales, this extraordinary companion anthology revisits and expands upon sixty-five years’ worth of top-notch fiction. These broad-ranging, award-winning tales appeal to readers of genre fiction and beyond, exploring alternate history, time travel, urban fantasy, cyberpunk, modern myth, horror, interstellar travel, epic fantasy, mystery, space opera, and much more.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or NetGalley.

* * * * *

And here’s one I resisted…

 

clooney book

*FF sobs bitterly*

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

 

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.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 13…

Episode 13

 

I don’t understand it – I’ve been so self-controlled for the last couple of weeks and yet the dreaded TBR has gone up to 103! Oh well, I don’t mind really – especially when I see some of the juicy reads coming up soon…

Coming to a blog near you soon:

 

bet your lifeThe second in Jane Casey’s YA series. Jess Tennant will keep me entertained while I wait eagerly for the next Maeve Kerrigan novel…

“Jess Tennant has now been living in Port Sentinel for three months, and is just beginning to relax and think of it as home after the murderous events of the summer. But in the small hours of a dark night, a teenage boy is left for dead by the side of the road. Seb Dawson has a serious head injury and may not survive – and Jess decides to find out who beat him up, and why? As she investigates, Jess discovers that Seb was involved in some very dangerous games. A secret predator around girls, he would do whatever it took to abuse them, from lying and blackmail to spiking drinks. Could a group of vengeful victims be behind his attack? Or is there someone else with a grudge against Seb and who will stop at nothing to silence him?”

*****

a very british murderInspired to read this book about the British obsession with murder by this review from Cleopatra Loves Books

“Murder – a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very British obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves? In A Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nation-wide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria’s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, puppet shows and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern Britain, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since.”

*****

dryadI know Sonya Solomonovich via blogging so in line with my usual rule probably won’t review this one, but I’m looking forward to reading it – it promises to be great fun…and isn’t the cover great?

Solena is a dryad from the South American rainforest who is scorned by other dryads for her obsession with the human world. But when the forest is threatened, it is Solena who is chosen to go on an undercover mission that leads to a breathtaking time travel adventure involving pirates, knights, and of course, a talking alligator. The dryad finds herself falling for the heir to the timber corporation, the handsome Rodney Love, but as her adventures take her back in time and deeper into the rainforest, she finds the possibility of another love, one that transcends time itself… Who will win the dryad’s heart: a smooth-talking billionaire who graces the cover of Narcissism Carnival or a wild and unruly jungle warrior?”

*****

fearie talesSome of the best horror writers getting together to give a modern spin to old tales. Perfect for Tuesday Terror? We shall see…

Two hundred years ago two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, collected together a large selection of folk and fairy tales and published them as Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales). So successful was the first collection of 88 stories that they kept adding more to subsequent editions. Since then, the tales of the Brothers Grimm have been translated into upwards of a hundred different languages and are known and loved throughout the world. Now award-winning editor Stephen Jones has tasked some of the brightest and best horror writers in Britain, America and Europe with reinterpreting some of the traditional Hausmärchen, putting a decidedly darker spin on the classic stories.”

*****

All blurbs are taken from Amazon.

I have very high hopes for all of these…will they be fulfilled? Or dashed?

Left for Dead (A Maeve Kerrigan Story) by Jane Casey

An extra treat…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

left for deadMaeve is 21, straight out of police college and finding her feet as the newest member of the team. Out on night shift patrol, she and her partner are sent to attend what sounds like a ‘domestic’ – until Maeve discovers a young woman, still alive, but horribly injured…

This novella-length story is a prequel to the excellent Maeve Kerrigan series, showing us Maeve at the beginning of her career, and the case that led to her meeting her future boss, Superintendent Charles Godley. The investigation element is fairly minimal, though enjoyable, and apart from Godley none of the later regulars are here. So no gorgeous Rob, sadly – but this leaves Maeve free to get entangled with another colleague. And we get an opportunity to see that Josh Derwent isn’t the only MCP in the Met.

It’s a steep learning curve for Maeve, but she holds her own and we see the feisty, funny personality that Casey develops so well in the full-length novels. A good introduction to anyone new to the series and an extra treat for die-hard fans.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

The Stranger You Know (Maeve Kerrigan 4) by Jane Casey

the stranger you knowGreat addition to a hugely enjoyable series…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

One murder might be a one-off, two might be a coincidence, but a third means there’s a serial killer at work. Maeve Kerrigan is assigned to the investigating team and is shocked to discover that the chief suspect is Josh Derwent, her colleague and boss. OK, he’s an unreconstructed male chauvinist pig, he’s a bully and a womaniser but…a murderer? Maeve can’t believe it. At least, she almost can’t believe it – but this murderer is plausible, he gains the trust of his victims and his psychological profile does sound an awful lot like Derwent…and it seems this isn’t the first time he’s been a murder suspect…

When I try to pin down why I love the Maeve Kerrigan books so much, it comes down to two things – the characterisation and the humour. Yes, the plotting is good, the stories are complex enough to keep the reader guessing and the running story arcs add an extra layer of interest. But what lifts these books way, way above average is Casey’s skill at creating completely believable characters and giving them dialogue that is both witty and natural.

“‘…you should still be in hospital.’
‘Who told you that?’
‘It’s obvious,’ I said. ‘You look dreadful.’
‘Said the woman with bright red eyes and crazy hair. Fuck me, it’s like getting a lecture from Coco the Clown.’”

Derwent has been playing a bigger role in each book and is central to this one. Despite his flaws (of which there are many) he is great fun – he takes great pleasure in winding Maeve up but she’s getting better at giving as good as she gets. And beneath his macho act, there’s courage, loyalty and integrity and, like Maeve, the more we get to know him, the more we can’t help feeling a sneaking liking for him. They’ve become a true crime fiction double-act – maybe not Holmes and Watson, exactly, but perhaps Dalziel and Pascoe, or Rebus and Siobhan. But in this pairing the junior officer, Maeve, is very much the central character. Confident, ambitious and assertive on the outside, we get to see the mass of insecurities inside her head and to enjoy her often wickedly funny observations of her colleagues.

“Being lectured on politeness by Una Burt was like taking make-up advice from Barbara Cartland.”

Jane Casey
Jane Casey

It’s Maeve’s normality that I love most – her lovely boyfriend Rob isn’t in this one much, but he’s survived through three books now and their relationship is stronger than ever. She has a family whom she loves and who love her; we know her mother best through the frequent exasperated answerphone messages she leaves. And Maeve isn’t superwoman – she’s smart, good at her job and brave when she needs to be, but she knows her limitations and is strong enough to ask for help when she needs it. Oh, and she’s very likeable and very, very funny.

When a book is as eagerly anticipated as this one, it can be hard for it to live up to expectations but this one certainly does – a very fine addition to a hugely enjoyable series. This could easily be read as a standalone, but to fully understand the characters and running story arcs, it would be best to read them in order, starting with The Burning. And if you haven’t got to know Maeve and her colleagues yet, it really is time you did! Highly recommended.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

The Last Girl (Maeve Kerrigan 3) by Jane Casey

Shades of Christie…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

the last girlMaeve Kerrigan is fast becoming established as one of the most enjoyable detectives in current crime fiction. Young and ambitious, with a normal life, no alcohol or drug problems, a lovely regular boyfriend and a family who love her – what a refreshing change from the usual diet of angst-ridden mavericks.

When Vita Kennford and her 15-year-old daughter Laura are found dead, Maeve and her colleagues have to decide whether they were the real targets or whether someone had been out to get revenge on Philip Kennford, amoral barrister and serial adulterer. This is in many ways a rather traditional detective story with suspicion falling on a small cast of suspects all connected to the victim in some way. Again a pleasant change from the serial killer/gangland crime that has overshadowed the murder mystery genre in recent years. There are shades of the Christie country house mystery here, and that’s high praise from a dedicated Christie fan like myself.

Jane Casey
Jane Casey

The book is told in the first person, so we are treated to a DC-eye view of detection and to Maeve’s rather wicked form of observational humour. We see Maeve’s relationships with her colleagues develop, particularly with her DI, Josh Derwent, an unreconstructed male chauvinist but with a soft side that makes him an enjoyable character nonetheless. There are a couple of running threads from the two previous Kerrigan books, The Burning and The Reckoning, so though this works well as a stand-alone novel, I would recommend new readers to read them in order to get the full background.

Jane Casey has now become one of those authors whose latest book is an anticipated treat and this one didn’t disappoint. With each successive book her style has developed and now shows a sure-footedness that makes me hope that Maeve Kerrigan will be with us for a long time to come. I’m greatly looking forward to the new one, The Stranger You Know, due out in July 2013.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

The Reckoning (Maeve Kerrigan 2) by Jane Casey

The ReckoningJoining the top ranks…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

With this book, Jane Casey has laid claim to her place in the ranks of the current detective fiction greats – Rankin, Bauer, Bolton. Her first novel The Missing was good, the second The Burning was very good and this third entry is better yet.

The plotting in this novel shows a clear improvement over the first two books. Complex and with original twists, Casey is not afraid to take us to very dark places but is also skilled enough to lighten the tone with some humour when needed. The book starts with the discovery of the bodies of two known paedophiles who have been tortured and then murdered. Is this the beginning of a serial killing spree or are there more complicated, perhaps even darker, motives at work? Casey keeps the plot moving at an impressive pace throughout and maintains suspense to the end.

Jane Casey(source: telegraph.co.uk)
Jane Casey
(source: telegraph.co.uk)
In Maeve Kerrigan, Casey has created a likeable, believable young detective with the intelligence, initiative and determination to go far. Maeve is refreshingly normal, as detectives go, and I hope the author lets her remain so. She has a life outside work, normal relationships with her family and an enjoyable romantic liaison with one of her colleagues, with all the minor problems and complications that come with that. More realistically than the lone maverick detective we all know so well, Maeve is a team player who works well with her colleagues and does her best to please her boss whom she both respects and admires.

If I have a criticism, it is that sometimes the author breaks away from Maeve’s first person narrative to show us the action from someone else’s perspective. While I can see that this is useful, since it would be unrealistic for one detective constable to be present at every scene, I do find it breaks the flow, and I’m not sure the different voices are distinctive enough. However, Casey has done this much less in this novel than in the previous ones, and that for me is a real improvement. In any case, this small point does not stop this from being an excellent read and I hope we see much more of Maeve in the years to come.

NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

How to Fall (Jess Tennant 1) by Jane Casey

How to FallMystery, romance and humour… 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

It’s a year since Jess’s cousin Freya fell to her death from the cliffs in the small seaside town of Port Sentinel. Now 16-year-old Jess and her mother are visiting the town for the summer and Jess thinks the verdict of accidental death might not be telling the full story. So she begins to investigate, getting to know the other young people in the town and finding out about the relationships and jealousies that might have led to Freya’s death.

The book is told in the first person from Jess’s viewpoint. She is a strong character, intelligent, brave, beautiful (of course), stubborn and with a lot of Casey’s trademark humour. I enjoyed these elements of her character but felt that she also came over as incredibly nosey and pretty insensitive to other people’s feelings which made her hard to like as much as I felt we were supposed to. Some of the other characters felt a bit stereotyped and I was disappointed that YA fiction still seems to need the strong male to come along and rescue the girl from her obstinate folly a bit too often. On the other hand, the male in question was deep, super-handsome, the strong, silent type, and the romance element of the book worked very well, I thought.

Jane Casey
Jane Casey

This book is for Young Adults – I’d guess primarily for girls from about 12 up. Sadly, I haven’t been a young adult since back sometime in the last millennium so clearly not the target audience for this book. However I love Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series, which I must now assume are for Old Adults, so was interested to see how her style would work in this genre. Overall, I enjoyed the book and suspect I would have enjoyed it even more when I was a teenager. Casey’s writing is excellent as always and the plotting is strong. An entertaining read for people like me who have enjoyed Casey’s other work and are impatiently waiting for Maeve’s next outing; and highly recommended for the target group of YAs. I look forward to seeing some reviews from younger people to see what they think.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan 1) by Jane Casey

The BurningGreat new detective on the block… 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

A young woman is found, savagely killed and then her body burned. Is this the work of the serial killer known as the Burning Man or a copy-cat? We follow the plot through the eyes alternatively of amibitious young DC Maeve Kerrigan and of the victim’s best friend, Louise.

Maeve is a very likeable character and I found her much more believable than most of the angst-ridden mavericks we have to contend with in crime fiction these days. She has a normal social life, loving parents and no obvious drink, drug or psychiatric problems. She respects and admires her boss, tries to stay within the rules and gets on with most of her colleagues. And she has a sharp wit and a good sense of humour. A great new entrant to the detective genre and one I hope to see again.

I loved the dialogue in this book, particularly the banter between Maeve and her colleagues. It sounds natural, just as people really speak to each other. And, since the book is written in the first person, we also get to share some of Maeve’s thoughts and insights – often very funny.

If you like Rankin, McDermid or Hill you should give this a try – highly recommended.

Amazon UK Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R23RSYCVKCBY2G?

NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.