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AFTER THE FIRE by Jane Casey: Book Review

Murchison House, London, is a dismal place.  Broken elevators, out-of-order closed circuit television cameras, disgusting stairwells.  Only the poorest and most hopeless people live there.  And when a fire runs through it, it brings even more despair and grief.

Maeve Kerrigan, a police detective on the Metropolitan force, is called at home with the news that a fire has broken out at the House.  It’s already known that three people are dead, and there’s a strong possibility of more deaths.  And when Maeve arrives at the scene, minutes later, it’s as horrific as she’d thought.

One corpse has already been found and identified, that of Geoff Armstrong, a racist, homophobic, xenophobic member of the House of Commons.  At first glance it appears that Geoff threw himself through a window to avoid the smoke and flames, but a closer examination shows that he was already dead when his body hit the cement.  Why this politician, with his extreme right-wing views, would be at Murchison House in the first place is a question without an answer.  No one seems to be devastated at his death, but it’s still a high-profile case that the authorities want solved immediately, if not sooner.

Two young women, both without identification, have been found burned to death in their locked apartment.  In addition, an elderly woman has been taken to the hospital on a stretcher, a young girl has been brought to the same hospital in critical condition, and a boy who doesn’t seem certain of his name is alone and asking for his mother.  All these living people are more important to Maeve and her supervisor, Detective Inspector Josh Derwent, than looking into the death of Geoff Armstrong, but they are under orders from Chief Inspector Una Burt to make the Armstrong case their priority.  But Burt can’t follow them everywhere, can she?

There are also other stresses in Maeve’s life.  Rob, her long-time partner, has left her, and although she has discovered that he was unfaithful, she still misses him and keeps making excuses for him in her mind.  She is also being stalked by a man who has been following her for years and now seems to know her every move.

Maeve Kerrigan is a fascinating heroine.  She loves her job and is very good at it, but she hides her insecurities behind a façade of toughness and extreme independence.  She’s been in a depressed state since the end of her romance with Rob, but she’s afraid to let anyone know how she feels.   She’s also conflicted about her feelings about Josh Derwent.  He’s certainly an impossible man, but he always has her back.

Jane Casey has written another spellbinding mystery.  As always, her characters and plot are well-developed and realistic and will keep you guessing until the very end.

You can read more about Jane Casey at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.