Review - Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey

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Let the Dead Speak
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Maeve Kerrigan
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Book Synopsis

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

Book Review

LET THE DEAD SPEAK is the 7th novel in the Maeve Kerrigan series. A sobering thought for me given how much I liked this character in book number 1 and yet still I've now managed to miss books 2 through 6. Which means I can definitely say even if you've never read any of this series, LET THE DEAD SPEAK will work well.

A police procedural in style, LET THE DEAD SPEAK relies heavily on character interaction between Kerrigan and the team that she works with. There are a few tensions dotted throughout which are mostly self-explanatory, in particular there's obviously some clouds over Kerrigan from the recent past. When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery's mother disappears, leaving behind signs of a bloody struggle, the entire team are baffled by the missing body. Despite that tension between within the team, they do manage to stay focused on the investigation that leads them to some dodgy neighbours and some very odd outcomes.

The plot here is an interesting undertaking with some elements that are going to be easy to pick, and much that remains unclear right until the end. Without a body, Kerrigan and her team are forced to focus on the possible why's of Kate Emery's fate, rather than the how or who up front, meaning this is a good old fashioned investigation in many ways, working each lead as it appears, weeding out a wide range of red herrings and possible suspects by coming to understand the victim, her family, and the immediate neighbours. 

The use of first person narrative by Kerrigan works well here, giving the reader an inside view on the frustrations, achievements and feelings around an investigation like this. Peppered as it is with acerbic humour and plenty of barbs and cracks from colleagues, the perspective creates an immediacy and realism that wouldn't necessarily work as well with a more observational style. 

About the only thing that readers who are new to this series might notice is that there is obviously back-story to Kerrigan's recent promotion, and her relationship with DI Josh Derwent - that alone should be enough of a reason to plug the gaps in reading the series, but it really shouldn't stop anybody from starting with LET THE DEAD SPEAK if that's the best option available. A series definitely worth reading whatever order you opt for.

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