The Kill by Jane Casey

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The Kill by Jane Casey

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Liz Green
Reviewed by Liz Green
Summary: An intelligent and insightful crime novel with multiple layers of action and wonderful characterisation. Beautifully written and effortless to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 455 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Ebury Press
ISBN: 9780091948382

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I'm quite picky with crime fiction. This oversaturated market seems to teem with mediocre products. There are thrillers with excellent plots that are are badly written, some that contain masterful prose but are, well... boring, and others that are so far-fetched that I end up throwing the book away in disgust. I read Jane Casey′s highly enjoyable stand-alone The Missing several years ago. The Kill was my first foray into her Maeve Kerrigan series and I was keen to see how it would stand up.

Maeve is a detective constable in a Metropolitan Police homicide team that investigates more complex and unusual murders. As the narrator she delivers a clear picture of life as a woman in a male-dominated police force, the power struggles, the close relationships within a team, and what happens to a team when one of its members dies. Jane Casey′s character depiction is excellent and she is one of those writers who can paint a revealing portrait with clever dialogue or just a few well-chosen words. Just occasionally she overeggs the pudding, which is unnecessary for a writer of her considerable talent.

As a crime novel this is more akin to a police procedural than a thriller, but that doesn't mean it's not exciting. There are, in fact, various layers of action. There is a series of killings that may or may not be related (and these killings hit close to home: the targets are all serving police officers). There are the victims, and the usual retrospective look at their lives. There are snippets of sink estate and gangland action, there are guns and there are knives. Fairly typical Met fare. And then there are the complex personal relationships between the officers on the force. And it is the relationship between Maeve and her senior officer, Derwent, that makes this book stand out. Maeve is sharply intelligent, ambitious and insightful. Her faults (she can be self-obsessed, she overthinks things) make her all the more likeable. Derwent is ex-military, outwardly impenetrable but with layers of complexity. He is also delightfully vulgar, politically incorrect and views women as playthings. The interplay between him and Maeve is witty and pithy: office banter with a strong undercurrent of sexual tension that Maeve seems unable to see.

The characters are flawed - all of them - giving the book a wonderful realism. Jane Casey has a real understanding of what makes people tick, and the tight prose and sharp dialogue make her depictions of even ordinary events and people a joy to read.

The book isn't full of tension in the way some crime novels are, although it does have its moments. It is a compelling read nonetheless. I tried to read it slowly, to savour the words, but couldn't stop myself from gobbling pretty much the whole book in one sitting.

It's probably a good idea to read any series in order. That said, while The Kill does contain references to events in the previous books, Jane Casey is careful not to put in too much detail. I shall quite happily travel back in time to the first four. In fact, I can't wait.


The Missing by Jane Casey: A standalone novel about a missing 12-year-old
Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce: A police procedural with a good plot and interesting characters

Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan series in Chronological Order

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