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Posts Tagged ‘London police detective’

CRUEL ACTS by Jane Casey: Book Review

Leo Stone, aka The White Knight, is poised to be released from prison.  He was sentenced thirteen months earlier when he was found guilty of murdering two young women.  Now evidence has come to light that a juror disregarded the judge’s instructions and looked up Stone’s past on the internet.  He discovered Stone’s previous convictions for assault, told other jurors, and posted the results on the net.  Based on that information, a mistrial is declared and Stone is released.

Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan and her supervisor Detective Inspector Josh Dewent are assigned to review the case and find sufficient evidence to put The White Knight back in prison.  Both murdered women shared some characteristics–they were young, attractive, walking to their flats alone late at night.  Maeve is convinced that another woman, Rachel Healy, was also Stone’s victim, but because her body hasn’t been found there wasn’t any forensic evidence to include her in the case against Leo Stone.  But that isn’t going to stop Maeve from investigating on her own time.

Stone was convicted of the murders of Willa Howard and Sara Grey.  Interestingly, the responses of the victims’ parents are totally different, and they can barely stand to be in the same room together.

The Howards are convinced that Stone is the man who murdered their daughter Willa, and they are beyond angry that he has been released, even though there are plans to retry him.  The Greys, on the other hand, are angry that Stone, whom they believe is innocent in their child Sara’s death, has been imprisoned while the real murderer is free.  They have no intention or desire to help Maeve and Josh in any way.

Leo’s son, Kelly, has been in touch with the Greys ever since Stone was sent to prison, and he has convinced them that his father is innocent.  Kelly is earnest and charming, but although he has convinced Sara’s parents of his father’s innocence, he has been unable to influence Willa’s.

Maeve’s investigation into the missing Rachel Healy uncovers a very different type of woman.  Unlike Willa and Sara, Rachel was not shy and unsure of herself, rather the opposite.  Maeve first talks to Rachel’s sister, and Zoe tells her that they didn’t have a close relationship.  “She said I wouldn’t approve of what she’d been doing.”  This picture of Rachel was confirmed when Maeve interviews her former boyfriend, who describes Rachel as someone who liked to live on the edge, someone who liked danger.  He unwillingly tells her, “She wanted to be hurt….That was what she enjoyed.”

Cruel Acts is a look into secret lives and deadly secrets.  Maeve and Derwent disagree on almost everything except for the most important thing–learning the truth and putting the evildoer behind bars.  Jane Casey’s eighth novel featuring Maeve Kerrigan is outstanding.

You can read more about Jane Casey at various sites on the internet.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

LET THE DEAD SPEAK by Jane Casey: Book Review

There’s good news and bad news about Jane Casey’s series featuring London detective Maeve Kerrigan.  The good news is that the novels are outstanding; the bad news is that it took me so long to learn about them.

Let the Dead Speak is Maeve’s first case since her promotion to detective sergeant.  She and her team are called to a particularly bloody scene at the West London home of Kate and Chloe Emery.  Teenage Chloe has returned home unexpectedly after a very unhappy visit with her father and his second family, and she finds her house is covered in blood and her mother is nowhere to be found.

Chloe has some developmental issues, and it’s hard for Maeve to be certain exactly what has happened, especially since Chloe isn’t speaking at all.  She’s staying with her neighbors Oliver and Eleanor Norris, whose daughter Bethany is Chloe’s best friend.  The Norrises have volunteered to have Chloe stay with them as long as necessary, although it’s obvious to Maeve that Eleanor Norris is less than enthusiastic about having this house guest.

According to Oliver Norris, there might have been something, perhaps inappropriate, going on at the Emery house when Chloe spent the occasional weekend at her father’s.  He tells the detective he’s seen men coming and going from the house.  He says he tried to talk to Kate about this, even going so far as to invite her to their church, but “it didn’t go over too well.”  The Norrises belong to a small Christian sect, the Church of the Modern Apostles, that apparently believes in husbandly superiority, wifely subservience, and a lack of worldly technology.

When Maeve and her colleague Detective Inspector Josh Derwent do a second, more thorough search of the Emery house, Maeve finds a bag containing stained, torn women’s clothing in Kate’s otherwise immaculate bedroom closet.  The two detectives find it hard to understand why Kate would have saved these particular items.  Also, given the overwhelming amount of blood found in the house, it’s almost impossible to believe she’s still alive.  Certainly it appears that she could not have left by her own volition, but no one has found a trace of her.

Let the Dead Speak is a novel filled with fascinating characters and a tightly woven, believable plot.  There’s Chloe, clearly traumatized by her mother’s disappearance; the strange Norris family; their church’s leader; and a young man with a history of violence living on the same street.

Maeve Kerrigan is a wonderful heroine, strong and sure of herself after a difficult start at the beginning of her career.  She’s slightly wary about her new promotion, though, coming to her as it did because of the death of another detective on the team.  But she’s determined to show that she’s capable of handling whatever cases come her way.

A little more than a year ago in this blog I raved about After The Fire, the first Maeve Kerrigan mystery I’d read.   Let The Dead Speak is equally deserving of such high praise.

You can read more about Jane Casey at various internet sites.

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




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.


THE DOLL’S HOUSE by M. J. Arlidge: Book Review

Detective Inspector Helen Grace is called to a remote portion of a Southampton beach to investigate the corpse found buried in the sand.  It’s the body of a young woman, pale and emaciated, with a bluebird tattoo on her right shoulder.  The force’s forensic officer, already on the scene, believes that the woman’s burial is not recent, that she could have been there for as long as two or three years.

What makes the scene even more painful for Helen is her immediate feeling that whoever placed the body there had done so with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be easily found.  Thus, she thinks, this is not the killer’s first victim and possibly, she fears, not his last.

Miles away in a basement is another young woman.  Ruby has no idea where she is or how she has gotten there.  The room is dark, without windows, and very cold.  Her last memory is of coming home to her apartment from a night out drinking with friends, gulping down a glass of water, and then….But how did she get from there to here?  And where is her inhaler, something she is never without?

At the same time as she tries to identify the body found in the sand, Helen is pursuing another search, a personal one.  She is trying to find her nephew Robert Stonehill, the only child of her sister Marianne.  Robert disappeared after learning the truth about his mother nearly a year earlier, and Helen has been unable to find any trace of him.

Using police computers and the confidential information on them to look for Robert is most definitely against the rules and would cause Helen serious problems if she were found out.  But she’s desperate to get information.  Her attempt to go through the proper channels has been stymied by her station chief, Ceri Harwood, a woman intensely jealous of Helen’s successes in past investigations who will do almost anything, legal or not, to discredit her subordinate.

Helen’s childhood was traumatically dysfunctional, and she brings a lot of heavy baggage with her to her personal life and her official position.  But none of that interferes with her drive to succeed or her ability to uncover clues that other detectives have missed.  If only she could regulate her personal life as well as she does her professional one.

I reviewed Eeny Meeny last year and thought it was one of the best mysteries of 2015.  Mr. Arlidge continues the high suspense in The Doll’s House, the third novel in this series, as well as giving readers a better look into what makes Detective Helen Grace tick.

You can read more about M. J. Arlidge on various sites on the web.

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