I love a good police procedural, but for some strange and inexplicable reason Jane Casey is an author who has never previously crossed my reading radar (bookdar? readar?). So I was surprised to learn that this is actually the seventh in a series featuring (newly promoted) Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan. And I'm also very happy, obviously, as I now have a whole new back catalogue to explore!
Eighteen year old Chloe Emery – a young woman with some apparent mild learning difficulties – arrives home unexpectedly to find the house covered in blood and her mother, Kate, missing. There’s no body, but it certainly looks like a murder has been committed. Unravelling what has happened proves quite a challenge for DS Kerrigan and her colleague Josh Derwent, encompassing evangelical Christian neighbours, missing persons and some complex relationships. It’s an intriguing story which is tightly plotted and unpredictable.
As said, this is the seventh in the series and there’s clearly a lot of back story to the main characters, which is referred to at times but never impacts negatively on the story for a reader who, like me, is new to the series. Maeve’s relationship with her colleagues is well drawn, particularly a prickly love-hate sort of thing with Derwent (again, there’s clearly history there) – their interactions are very enjoyable to read. There’s also fast-track-graduate Georgia, new to the team, who hasn’t exactly impressed Maeve so far.
I loved the character of Maeve, a tough, committed police officer who perhaps cares too much at times. (As Derwent observes: "You do the job with all your heart. You really care. But you need to let your head make your decisions, not your heart. Your heart is big, but it's stupid as shit.") There are also some really horrible characters here, who are very well drawn and (unfortunately) believable.
A very minor gripe: quite far into the story, Maeve has to guess at Kate's full name and maiden name. I'd have thought the police would have already found out these details about a person whose murder they're investigating; in my experience of dealings with the police (on a purely professional basis, honest), they're obsessed with finding out everyone's full name plus any other names they've ever been known by. Yeah - I said it was minor.
In this book at least, Maeve doesn’t seem to have much of a personal life outside the job – though there are references to a past relationship which is clearly still affecting her. I did detect (using my amazing detective skills) a distinct flavour of good old Unresolved Sexual Tension between Maeve and Derwent (again, not having read the other books, I don't know the background). It feels like it should probably stay unresolved, though, as I really like their relationship as it is.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and will definitely seek out Jane Casey’s previous books.