Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review of Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, 2017)

Chloe Emery flees her father’s home earlier than expected and returns to her mother’s house in West London. She finds the house deserted but covered in blood. Newly promoted DS Maeve Kerrigan and her team start to investigate. All the signs are that Kate Emery was brutally murdered, then disposed of. Kerrigan’s investigation quickly uncovers that Emery was manipulative and deceitful, but there are no obvious suspects. Her attention is focused on three households: Emery’s neighbours, the Norrises who have taken Chloe in and are acting suspiciously; the Turner’s whose son was investigated for stabbing a schoolmate; and Emery’s former husband and his two teenage boys. All seem to have something to hide and are partial with the truth, but with little forensic evidence she and her team have little else to work with. And Kerrigan has the sense that the bloodbath in the Kate’s house might not be the closing act.

Let The Dead Speak is the seventh book in the Maeve Kerrigan series. In this outing Kerrigan has been promoted to detective sergeant, gaining responsibility for running investigations. Her first case is a murder without a body after a house is discovered covered in too much blood for the victim to have survived. As usual she is aided by the abrasive DI Josh Derwent, but also has to contend with a new recruit, an ambitious fast-track detective constable that wants to skip routine work and be at the heart of the case. Without a body and conclusive forensic evidence the Kerrigan struggles to make headway and none of the victim’s neighbours or family are being very helpful. This outing is a straight-up police procedural focusing on the intricacies of the case and the relations within the investigative team, with Kerrigan’s personal life moved into the background. Casey does a very nice job of spinning the tale out, especially related to the difficulties of dealing with awkward witnesses and suspects. While the case is very tightly focused, there’s plenty of intrigue and forward movement as Kerrigan tries to sift the truth out from amongst all the lies. And as the story reaches its denouement there’s plenty of twists, turns and feints, shifting the reader from one suspect to another. Overall, an engaging and nicely told addition to the series.

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