Friday, December 26, 2014

Review of The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey (Ebury, 2013)

Three women have been murdered in their homes.  DC Maeve Kerrigan is pulled off another case headed up by her abrasive boss, DCI Josh Derwent, to help with the investigation and is forbidden from talking to him.  Twenty years earlier, when Derwent was a teenager, his fifteen year old girlfriend was brutally murdered.  Despite having an alibi, Derwent was the prime suspect and the taint of suspicion has never left him.  Now someone fitting his description is pursuing and charming vulnerable women then recreating the old murder scene.  Kerrigan doesn’t want to believe the evidence but it all points to Derwent’s guilt and the fact that another woman is undoubtedly at risk.

The Stranger You Know is the fourth book in the DC Maeve Kerrigan series set in London.  In this outing much of Kerrigan’s attention is focused close to home, trained on her immediate boss, the intimidating bully, Josh Derwent, and the connection between the murder of his girlfriend twenty year’s previously and a series of more recent slayings.  Derwent is desperate to be part of the case, but some of his colleagues are unconvinced of his innocence.  Kerrigan is prepared to give him the benefit of doubt, but as usual he doesn’t make it easy for her.  Casey hits all the nails on the head: a well developed set of characters, a nicely constructed plot, a good sense of time and place, well depicted police procedural elements, engaging prose and narrative, and a good pace.  Kerrigan is a complex character, wracked with vulnerabilities, insecurities, and has low self-esteem, but at the same time knows she has talent, is headstrong and risk-taker, charting her own path often in direct contravention of orders.  The other characters are similarly multidimensional.  The tale has plenty of intrigue, tension, twists and turns, feisty interchanges, and engaging subplots.  For me there was one twist too many, and a couple of characters drop out of the story towards the end, but Casey nonetheless keeps the reader guessing to the last few pages as to the culprit.  Overall, a superior and entertaining police procedural.


TracyK said...

Thanks for this review. I have read the first book in this series and enjoyed it and was wondering if I should consider the series. I will have to try another one.

Rob Kitchin said...

Tracy, I think the series is worth another read. It reminds me of Rankin's Rebus, which is a good thing, I think.