Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: 'Let the Dead Speak' by Jane Casey

In Jane Casey's "Let the Dead Speak," dysfunctional people behave destructively and leave others to deal with the wreckage. DI Josh Derwent and DS Maeve Kerrigan of London's Metropolitan Police have the thankless task of investigating a bizarre case. Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns home from visiting her dad (her parents are divorced) only to discover that her mother, Kate, is missing. Chloe is also is horrified to see copious amounts of blood everywhere. Did someone murder her mother and dispose of her body? Kate had been a devoted mum who obtained special educational services for Chloe, a girl with intellectual challenges. However, Chloe is grown up now; she is beautiful, seductive, and no longer a docile child.

Kerrigan, who narrates, is eager to prove that she is a capable and competent detective who earned her recent promotion. Underneath her carefully cultivated fa├žade of strength and toughness, she is caring, compassionate, and eager to make sure that homicide victims are not forgotten. As usual, Casey entertains us with amusingly sarcastic byplay between Maeve, Derwent, and the most recent addition to the squad, DC Georgia Shaw, whom Kerrigan initially dismisses as a lightweight. Members of the team search for Kate's remains and interrogate her acquaintances and neighbors. This complex and frustrating investigation will require tenacity and patience, since so many witnesses stubbornly refuse to reveal what they know.

Casey creates memorable characters (some of whom are downright loathsome), and the complex plot is a disheartening blend of deceit, betrayal, and cruelty. The corpses pile up, and as the narrative progresses, the author throws in one grim revelation after another. "Let the Dead Speak" is an engrossing study of disturbed, selfish, and malevolent individuals. Unfortunately, Kerrigan and her team misread clues, fail to notice anomalies, and are stymied by an abundance of secrets, lies, and evidence that does not add up. Readers who value plausibility will likely groan at the sheer number of far-fetched twists and turns that Casey throws at us, especially in the final pages. All in all, this work of psychological suspense will hold your interest, but be prepared to suspend your disbelief when the truth finally emerges.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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