Another superb outing for Maeve Kerrigan in this, the sixth in the series. Although it isn’t necessary to have read the previous five books, in my opinion, you are missing out if you don’t read this series in order.
So what happens? Well there is a fire, always good when the title links to the content, at Murchison House on the Maudling Estate, the scene of the action in book five, The Kill. The fire took hold of the tenth and eleventh floors of the tower block and one of the fatalities is MP Geoff Armstrong but no-one knows what he was doing there. On the eleventh floor two bodies are found but with no identification, the police need to find out who the victims are and why they were locked into the flat. Added to that there is a boy who has lost his mother, an elderly woman who may have the key to the mystery and a young girl who has suffered horrific burns. The more the police probe, the more secrets are uncovered, but the investigators struggle to decide who was the target and what the motive was for this terrifying act of arson.
Luckily for us, but perhaps not so fortunate for Maeve. the new boss DCI Una Burt decides contrary to her previous thoughts that she should partner Derwent specifically to investigate whether the controversial MP was the target of arson and unsurprisingly she would like the result before the last embers of the fire have burnt out. I have to admit at this point that I love Derwent…. He is annoying supercilious a womaniser and anything but a team player but there is something about him that appeals strongly and I am amazed that Maeve remains more or less impervious to his charms.
I’m a huge fan of Jane Casey’s books, and this one was, if anything, even better than those that have preceded it. The characters are an absolute delight, particularly Derwent who is arrogant and refuses to follow orders but who every now and again shows his softer side, something that is even more apparent in this outing. But the author doesn’t just confine her great characterisation to the police force, the victims and the bystanders are so realistic that I felt I knew them even if some of them are predictably repulsive.
There are multiple strands to the story, but at no time is there any hint of confusion as these are expertly handled, including the reappearance of Chris Swain the man who is stalking Maeve. This is a great story arc which despite being an extreme example accurately portrays the absolute single-minded nature of this kind of perpetrator.
Added to the great characters, a complex but not confusing plot, there are a few contemporary issues to explore and finally, there is no mistaking the setting, a North London council estate. I recommend this series to anyone who says they like crime novels, there isn’t another series quite like it!
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Random House UK who allowed me to read this book which will be published next week, 18 June 2015.
Maeve Kerrigan Series in order
The Last Girl
After The Fire