Friday, October 25, 2013

The Burning (Book Review)

Title: The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan, #1)
Author: Jane Casey
Publication Information: St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 2011
Genre: Suspense/Crime Fiction  Setting: 21st century London
Plot: Maeve Kerrigan is a London detective with the usual challenges of solving crimes while dealing with annoying and condescending male counterparts.  They especially like to taunt her about being Irish and belittle her contributions to the murder investigation. I disliked them all, including, initially, the handsome Detective Constable Rob Langton who is working with her to catch a serial killer.   Another very intriguing character is Superintendent Godley, whose name denotes his seemingly inscrutable demeanor.  Godley sees Maeve’s potential but never seems to interfere in the squabbles of his staff.  I would say these detectives need workplace harassment awareness training from an employment lawyer such as myself but I am sure that would only make things worse for Maeve.  Her cohorts won’t change their ways until they are sued and/or forced to resign.

What I liked: I love heroine Maeve; she is tenacious and stubborn and sarcastic, doesn’t always know who her friends are, can’t manage her love life or her mother, and sometimes fails to recognize the killer until after I have.  She is one of those appealing law enforcement professionals who is dedicated to protecting victims, even if -- or particularly if -- they are dead and have no one else to seek justice for them.  Her boyfriend doesn’t understand her and isn’t supportive of her career; she deserves better but it is kind of funny to be forced to make that decision in the middle of a murder investigation.  Could you be any more annoying, Ian?

Crime Fiction: This is a genre I usually enjoy and fans of Tana French are likely to enjoy the Maeve Kerrigan books.  I finally read French’s four books last winter, and was enthralled by her dark depiction of Dublin.  Casey’s plots are at least as violent but the writing isn’t as dark or as bleak, and her books are enjoyable in a different way.  The reader knows nothing irrevocable is going to happen to Maeve: she often takes a licking but keeps on ticking (I suspect French would kill off a character without batting an eyelash).  Minette Walters is also very dark but in recent years her plots and characters have not sufficiently interested me.  The last Val McDermid I read subjected her heroine to such a violent rape I wasn’t sure I could even continue reading the series, although I like Carol Jordan and Tony Hill.  I hope that Casey can keep her readers fascinated without sacrificing her unusual heroine.

Source: My sister Clare recommended this series to me, and I got this book from the library, and read the second and third soon after.  SMP is about a year behind the UK pub schedule, so I had to order the fourth book and a recent YA title from England.  


JaneGS said...

Hmm, sounds intriguing. I like mysteries, but not too violent and not too cozy. Donna Leon gets it about right for me.

Maeve Kerrigan does sound like an interesting protagonist, although the setting (male-dominated world) is getting a bit tired these days, despite the fact that it still reflects reality for many professions.

I put this on the list to check out.

CLM said...

Casey's books do get quite violent. You would probably prefer Deborah Crombie, another new-to-me author in 2013 if you have not read her before.