Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series takes us into the heart of a London Metropolitan Police investigation through the eyes of a lower-ranking officer, Detective Constable Kerrigan.
Born of Irish parents and brought up in London, Kerrigan’s struggle to find her home – her true ‘fit’ – also plays out in the workplace where the strident and effusive sexism of her immediate boss, Detective Inspector Josh Derwent comes from another age. (Before the razor was invented.)
By the fourth in this series, Kerrigan has experienced a stalker, moved home more than once and bedded down into a relationship with a colleague that saw him shunted off into another team. Not an easy life.
So why has this series gained such a loyal following? Kerrigan’s plucky, has good instincts and has a naturally sharp and witty tongue.
In The Stranger You Know, Kerrigan is hunting a killer. Three different cases across London now appear linked. Three women – with different backgrounds and nothing in common – have trustingly welcomed someone into their home only to be strangled and laid out in a form meaningful only to the killer.
In a tense office charged by arguments from behind closed doors, Kerrigan is pulled from her partnership with Derwent and told not to breathe a word on what is now a suspected serial killer case. Certain facts link to an earlier, unsolved case – one in which the teenage Derwent himself was a suspect.
All this paves the way for a seismic shift in the plates that have structured the Derwent and Kerrigan relationship until now. We also discover more of Derwent, achieving a level of understanding of what has made him the natural Neanderthal that he is. But is Derwent also a killer?
As in the previous novel The Last Girl, Jane Casey expertly weaves her plot through the actions of various characters keeping even a seasoned crime fiction reader guessing to the end. Gripping and hugely entertaining, The Stranger You Know is peopled with richly drawn characters and the gritty realism of contemporary London.
You don’t need to have read the previous novels in the series, but The Stranger You Know is highly likely to leave you reaching for them.
Kerrigan is to today what Jane Tennison surely was at the start of her career. An attractive and engaging character, she could well prove to be as enduring.
This review appeared in the print edition of the Catholic Herald.