Friday, April 4, 2014

The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey

The Stranger You Know is the fourth book in the Maeve Kerrigan police procedural series from Jane Casey, and I think it may be the best so far. The first book was a great start, but seemed a bit clich├ęd, and there was a lot of introductory material. The second and third were even better, with a lot of character development and a more complex case.

The pacing of The Stranger You Know is terrific – I had a hard time putting the book down. The narrative is a great blend of character development and action. I really wanted to know what would happen next, both with the crime and the regular characters.

Maeve Kerrigan is a Detective Constable with some complicated relationships. She is commitment shy but in a relationship with another cop, a terrific guy who is not afraid to say “I love you” even though Maeve won’t reply in turn. Rob is out of the country on a work-related trip most of this book, so the focus is not on their romance but on Maeve’s relationship with coworkers.

Maeve has Irish parents but works in London, and as a woman in a male-dominated field, she feels like an outsider. She started out hero-worshipping her boss, Chief Superintendent Godley (know as “God” around the office), but has since found out some things about him that sent him tumbling off the pedestal. She could get him fired, and he knows it; although she keeps his secrets, her knowledge affects her interactions with him. She is often paired with Detective Inspector Josh Derwent, who comes off as a jerk and a misogynistic pig. In The Stranger You Know, we get to know Derwent a lot better. He is taken off a case and isn’t happy about it. There is a serial killer in London, and Derwent was the prime suspect in a similar case 20 years before. Maeve and Derwent spend a lot of time together in this book, in challenging situations that force them to get to know each other better.

We are thrown a lot of red herrings, but I expect that in a mystery series. The investigation moves relentlessly on, with Maeve right in the middle, disobeying orders and taking unlikely sides. There’s a plot twist at the end that will no doubt play into future books in the series. I can’t wait.

If you like British police procedurals and well-paced crime thrillers with lots of character development, I recommend Jane Casey. Although one could pick up The Stranger You Know without having read the first three, I recommend starting with The Burning.

I read an advance reader copy provided by Netgalley. The Stranger You Know will be published in the U.S. in late May. (However, the Galesburg Public Library owns the first three already!)

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