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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Two by Jane Casey

The Last Girl (Maeve Kerrigan Novels Bk. 3) 

The Burning and The Reckoning by Jane Casey kept me enthralled with both characters and plot.  Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan, senior detective DI Josh Derwent, and their superior, Chief Superintendent Godley are all vividly depicted, complete with strengths and frailties.  The Last Girl is a worthy follow-up to the first two books.

When Lydia Kenneford enters the house after swimming laps in the family pool, she discovers her mother and her twin sister brutally murdered.  Her father, the wealthy and influential barrister Philip Kenneford, has been knocked unconscious, but isn't seriously injured.

Known for his defense of criminal elements, Kenneford is not a popular man with the police, and his lack of concern for his surviving daughter does nothing to improve Maeve's opinion of the man.

With little physical evidence available and plenty of potential suspects, Maeve and Josh must dig deep to uncover all of the family secrets and sort them out.  In the meantime, Maeve, whose high opinion of Godley was tested in The Reckoning, finds that she must deal with questions about Godley's decisions regarding a feud between rival gangs that has developed from one of the secondary plots in the previous book.  She still must endure Derwent's unapologetic sexism, but as Derwent's personality deepens, there are hints of something more under his surface brashness and abrasive demeanor.

Lots of twists and turns, interesting subplots (several continued from previous installments, but easily understood without having read the first two novels in the series), and continued character development make The Last Girl another engrossing addition to this fine series. While I admit to some doubt about some of the complex developments in the Kenneford case, I still relished each page!

Library copy.  Read in Jan.

Crime/Police Procedural.  2012.  384 pages.

The Stranger You Know  (Maeve Kerrigan Novels Bk. 4)

You can easily guess that Jane Casey has become one of my favorite crime authors.  I've followed the series with enthusiasm since receiving the The Burning from NetGalley last year.  

The books can be read as stand alones, but a great deal of the pleasure in the books involves the way Casey has managed the character growth and the intriguing subplots from one book to the next.  And the dialogue--some authors never get the hang of effective dialogue, but Casey makes excellent use of the spoken word, letting conversation reveal more than a simple exchange of information.

This taut and penetrating novel is my favorite in the series. The style is a bit different in this novel, the pace a bit slower, but these are adjustments that suit the situation.

Three young women have been strangled and left in a curious tableau in their own homes.  It appears that each one let the killer in willingly.  How does he meet them and how does he gain their trust?  Maeve is assigned to the case, but her partner Josh Derwent, who is has an avid interest in the case, is excluded.  Although Derwent has proved a difficult partner in many ways, Maeve's confidence in his abilities as an investigator leaves her perplexed about the way Derwent has been sidelined.  

It is eventually revealed that Derwent's young girlfriend, some twenty years ago, was murdered in much the same way, and the killer was never found.  As the investigation moves forward, at least one high-ranking member of the team begins pointing the finger toward Derwent as the guilty party.  Maeve is instructed not to discuss any aspect of the case with Derwent.  Feeling loyalty toward Derwent and guilt about orders to deny him any access to information or evidence, Maeve is caught in a dilemma. 

Much of the plot involves the original murder that appears to have instigated and inspired the details of the current murders.  Josh Derwent's background and adolescence, his teenage friends and their relationships take up a sizable portion of the plot.  How did the murder of his young girlfriend influence an open and friendly young man to become the boorish, politically incorrect,  bumptious adult?

Red herrings and complex relationships must be examined, as well as the mysteries of a twenty-year-old case, if Maeve is going to be able to get Derwent off the hook.  Again, intriguing subplots are an important element that keep the reader's attention ratcheted up in The Stranger You Know.

I highly recommend this series!

Library copy.  Read in Jan.

Crime/Police Procedural.  2013.  384 pages.


  1. I've read the first book in the series, THE BURNING, and am planning on continuing. These sound like I'll have good reading to come. Does she have another one coming out this year?

    1. I've liked all of them so far. Yes, she has another one coming out soon--I'm eagerly awaiting another Maeve Kerrigan/Josh Derwent novel!

  2. I've not read anything by this author but I do have The Last Girl in my pile. I'm glad to hear it could read as a standalone and seeing that you have enjoyed reading this series, I suppose I've to get the other books as well. :)

  3. Jane Casey's characters are the reason I've become so involved with this series. She has a talent for creating interesting characters, and I enjoy the police procedural plots as well. Hope you will enjoy this series, too!

  4. I've only read the first two but they are a series that I plan to follow. Really stand out character. So glad to hear you've continued to enjoy the series.

    1. The characters in this series have really grown on me! Can't wait for the next in Casey's Maeve Kerrigan series!