I absolutely loved being back in the world of Maeve Kerrigan. So much so I read this straight through in one day. The set up was brilliant – a modern slavery racket is suspected and Maeve must get close to one of the conspirators, an unlikely criminal. The mayor of London’s assistant has brought a sad case to their attention. A young man called Davey who died after suffering neglect, starvation and physical abuse. He was the perfect target for slavery, an easily influenced man with learning disabilities but physically strong and capable. Strangely, there have been other young men go missing from the system after using the same address, that of an elderly lady in a normal suburban close. There needs to be close surveillance so Una Burt puts her best officers on it, Maeve must move into the close with Josh Derwent as her boyfriend, pretending to dog sit for the usual occupant. Josh thinks Maeve needs a break from her normal routine, because after the court case convicting her partner of domestic abuse Maeve has been drifting and not herself at all. Similarly, Maeve thinks Josh could do with a break away from his live in girlfriend Melissa. How will they fare as a couple on the close and will they be able to flush out the conspirators in the slavery case?
I loved the tension between Derwent and Maeve in this story, close together in the house and away from all their usual distractions it brings their chemistry into focus. Every time they behaved like a couple it felt completely natural, until it was imagining them going back to colleagues was unthinkable. They have had so many obstacles in their time as friends, always something preventing them from becoming more, so could this be the perfect timing? At times the tension in their house was more unbearable than the tension in the case! There are parts of Derwent that I don’t like, but I can see ways in which he’d be good for Maeve and vice versa. They ingratiate themselves with the neighbours easily because they sense this chemistry, they seem like a real couple. The elderly lady in question is tricky, seemingly an innocent and kindly woman but if she is involved with mistreating these men, her kindness is all a front. She reveals that she does provide a bed for young men with disabilities from time to time, but doesn’t elaborate on whether it’s an official arrangement. When Maeve discovers there’s a oreviously unknown son, whose wife runs a care home, the chain starts to come together. However this isn’t the only crime lurking under the respectability of suburbia. The author uses short chapters narrated by a man who is very unpleasant and possibly dangerous. He lurks after dark watching through the windows of those who don’t close their curtains, even Josh and Maeve. He has a very incel vibe, so could he be a lone male with little female attention and experience, or is he hiding his feelings about women under the veneer of a happy family man?
I enjoyed watching these people through Maeve’s eyes as her instincts are usually spot on and her insight seems to be coming back to her as the novel continues. This break is exactly what she needed. Her interactions with a lady with dementia in the close are brilliant because Maeve doesn’t dismiss what she claims to have seen just because of her illness. Maeve knows there are moments of lucidity and keeps thinking about what she’s said and trying to interpret it. When she goes missing in the dark Maeve is desperate to find her, but so is our unknown man and it’s a real heart pounding part of the book, hoping against hope that Maeve gets to her first. It’s clear that this seemingly happy and respectable close is anything but, with the men hiding all sorts from irritating foibles to murder. Towards the end I was powering through the pages to find out who was hurting girls in the close, whether Maeve’s fire and copper’s instinct was returning, but also whether Josh and aMaeve were going to confront their feelings for each other. This was an addictive thriller, focusing on one of my favourite fictional police duos and I loved seeing them in a different environment, but still flushing out crime.
Published by Harper Collins 2nd March
Meet The Author
Jane Casey is a bestselling crime writer who was born and brought up in Dublin. A former editor, she has written twelve crime novels for adults (including ten in the Maeve Kerrigan series) and three for teenagers (the Jess Tennant series). Her books have been international bestsellers, critically acclaimed for their realism and accuracy. The Maeve Kerrigan series has been nominated for many awards: in 2015 Jane won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for The Stranger You Know and Irish Crime Novel of the Year for After the Fire. In 2019, Cruel Acts was chosen as Irish Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. It was a Sunday Times bestseller. Stand-alone novel The Killing Kind was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick in 2021, and is currently being filmed for television. Jane lives in southwest London with her husband, who is a criminal barrister, and their two children.