Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel that I’ve voluntarily chosen to review.
This is the seventh novel in the Maeve Kerrigan series, and although it’s a standalone book that can be followed without difficulty even without having read any of the rest (as that was the case for me) I wondered about how I would have felt about the characters if I had known their background. As is the case in police-procedural series (this one set in London, UK), we have the case that is being investigated on the one side, and, on the other, those doing the investigating.
The case in this novel is quite original (although not unheard of). There is a crime scene without a body and a pretty bloody and dramatic one at that. The owner of the house has disappeared and her daughter, Chloe, who has learning difficulties (although the specific diagnosis is a matter of debate), suddenly comes back early from her stay at her father’s (her parents are divorced) and walks into a nightmarish scene. The first chapter, that follows Chloe’s return home and what she finds there, is told in the third person from her point of view, and due to her cognitive difficulties, we get to sense the confusion and chaos of her not assimilating or understanding fully what she’s seeing. It reminded me (although the effect was far less disorienting and shocking here) of the beginning of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, where we also see things from the point of view of a character who has little understanding of what is happening.
Most of the rest of the story is told in the first person from the perspective of Maeve Kerrigan, now detective sergeant, who is still trying to get used to her promotion and has mixed feelings about the new detective she’s been assigned (Georgina, who doesn’t have much experience on the job but seems to know important people and has ticked the right boxes). We get some hints at previous events, like the fact that Kerrigan feels guilty for the death of one of the members of the team, that her boyfriend moved out a long time ago but she’s still hopeful he might come back and we see and experience her interesting relationship with Derwent, who is one of the most entertaining characters, although I did feel there was a lot of background information I was missing, that might have helped me enjoy the nuances of their interactions more. The last chapter is again told in the third person, from the point of view of another one of the characters in the case, Bethany, a girl of fifteen, and that creates a nice symmetry in the structure of the novel.
The case has all the elements one could wish for: complex family relationships, secrets and lies, blackmail, suspects galore, alternative religious organisations, action, chases, dead-ends, adultery, love stories, risky and dangerous situations, twists and turns, and yes, a final twist.
The book is well written, a page-turner, flows well and although it follows the requisite investigative procedures, is not heavy on terminology and offers enough details without being too gore. I only missed feeling more connected to Kerrigan and the rest of the team (perhaps because I’d missed too much of the background story up to that point).
A good read, entertaining and that will keep readers guessing. Recommended to lovers of police procedural novels set in the UK, looking for a fast read, full of action and heavier on plot than on characterisation.