This is the fifth in the crime series based in London and featuring Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan and it is excellent.
Most of the very topical story based on tension between the police and poor people of color actually focuses on the relationship with Maeve and her frequent Murder Squad partner, Detective Inspector Josh Derwent. The complexity and nuance with which Casey limns both Maeve and Josh, and the two of them together, is riveting.
Josh often behaves like a sexist churl, and while it annoys Maeve, she understands it is in part a defense mechanism for Josh, whose rage and apparent lack of compassion is a shield, “hiding what he really felt, as if anyone would think less of him for being upset at what we were about to see.” Nevertheless, Maeve can’t keep herself from sparring with him, as in this exchange after he basically felt her up while dancing together at a colleague’s wedding, which he claimed was her fault for wearing a provocative dress:
“‘Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that gave you a license to grope me. What should I have been wearing? A suit like this, so you didn’t accidentally forget I was your colleague?’ I dropped the sugar-sweet sarcasm. ‘It was a wedding. A party. I wore a party dress. Maybe I should have got hold of a burqa since you find it so hard to control yourself when confronted by a fucking frock.’”
Nevertheless, while both of them attack each other when alone, both also come strongly to the other’s defense when attacked by a third party. We sense an attraction between them, even though Maeve is deeply in love with her partner, Rob.
The book begins with the murder of a policeman, and as the story unfolds, there are more casualties. But are they related? And if so, how? Interoffice politics threaten to undermine solving the mystery, but Maeve’s unusual insight into human behavior and motivations helps unravel the threads of the crimes.
Discussion: Casey is excellent at detailing the small aspects of police duty that often get lost in crime stories:
“Tea, the answer for every problem. Burglary? Tea. Missing child? Tea. Dead husband? Tea. No one ever seemed to drink it. For us, the cups were a prop, something to do with your hands while gently delivering the bad news and easing yourself back out to the street. Nothing ever felt as good as the first breath of fresh air when you walked out of a house filled with grief.”
Casey is also very good at characterization – especially with respect to complicated relationships, of which Maeve has quite a few. I also admire the way Maeve is growing on the job. While this book can be read as a standalone, you won’t want to miss the pleasure of following the evolution of Maeve and Josh, their superintendent Charles Godley, and others on the squad.
Evaluation: I think this is Casey’s best yet.
Published in the U.S. by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2015