Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: 'The Kill' by Jane Casey

In Jane Casey's "The Kill," Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan is attending the wedding of a fellow police officer in Somerset when Superintendent Charles Godley dispatches her and her partner to investigate the murder of Terence Hammond. Detective Sergeant Hammond was an off-duty police officer who stopped his car in a wooded area of southwest London on his way home from work. Someone shot the forty-two year old Hammond, a married man and the father of two children, and subsequently drove away from the scene. There are few clues, although there is plenty of speculation: Was Hammond having an affair? Had he made enemies in the line of duty? Could this have been a random shooting?

Maeve Kerrigan is an insightful sleuth who notices things her colleagues often miss. Being paired with Detective Inspector Josh Derwent is no walk in the park, however. Derwent is a sexist pig and a pain in the neck. When the two of them interrogate witnesses, Kerrigan repeatedly has to smooth things over when Josh makes his usual tactless and offensive remarks. Maeve puts up with his shenanigans because she knows that he is a dedicated and hard-working individual who would do anything to protect her from harm.

What makes "The Kill" so absorbing is not its forensic or investigative details as much as the narrative's psychological underpinnings. Maeve and Josh are caught up in departmental politics, never a pleasant situation; something serious is troubling Godley, but he will not reveal what it is; and Maeve is guilt-ridden, since she is keeping a secret that, if revealed, would destroy the career of someone whom she greatly admires. While the detectives try in vain to solve the Hammond case, fresh episodes of horrific violence claim still more victims. Casey has written another puzzling and involving police procedural with nicely drawn characters, a gripping plot, and a fair amount of sardonic humor. The finale is action-packed and exciting, albeit a bit far-fetched. Readers who prefer tidy conclusions may be annoyed by the cliffhanger ending, but fans of Maeve Kerrigan will not want to miss the latest entry in this consistently absorbing series.

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