Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Book Review: LET THE DEAD SPEAK by Jane Casey

Let the Dead Speak (Maeve Kerrigan #7)

Author: Jane Casey
Harper Collins UK
March 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

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 facade?

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.

My thoughts:

Having compulsively followed the Maeve Kerrigan series since Book 1 (The Burning), Let the Dead Speak was on my wishlist before it had even been written. It was therefore like early Xmas when Netgalley granted me an early preview copy – time for a happy dance around the kitchen! This was the last exercise I was going to get for a while, until I had devoured it in a massive one-night read-a-thon.

In Let the Dead Speak, Maeve has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, and has a new detective constable, Georgia Shaw, under her wing. The pair is dispatched to investigate a potential murder scene after 18-year old Chloe Emery returns home from a weekend visit to her father’s place, only to find the house covered in blood and her mother gone without a trace. However, there is no body, no suspect and no obvious motive, and with Chloe reluctant to talk to police, the detectives are at loose ends as to where to start their investigation. Enter DI Josh Derwent, and the investigative team is now complete, with its usual interesting dynamics. As the detectives start to canvass the neighbourhood for any leads, it soon becomes obvious that the quiet, middle class street is rife with secrets and unsavoury characters that make your blood curdle, even more so since they come in the guise of ordinary model citizens. These people could be your neighbours, your colleagues, your friends, people you trust. As Kerrigan and Derwent slowly chip away at the lies, tensions build and people get nervous. Soon the investigation takes a different direction they did not seen coming, and the body count mounts ....

In Let the Dead Speak, Casey once again proves why she is firmly engraved on my list of favourite crime authors. With her unsettling talent for looking into the darkest corners of the human soul and bringing them out for everyone to see, her tales are all the more chilling in their ordinariness. These are normal people, in ordinary neighbourhoods, pushed to extraordinary acts of violence by anger, greed, misguided love or arrogance.
Humans were still animals when it was all said and done.

Strongly character-driven, with vivid dialogue and non-stop action, the investigation carries the reader along in its wake to its shocking finale (which I did not see coming, by the way). The dynamic in Kerrigan’s and Derwent’s relationship is as sparkly and snarky as ever, and I felt like I was re-visiting old friends (or foes).
He frequently threw himself into my private life with all the delicacy of a Labrador bounding into a stagnant pond, but it wasn’t something I encouraged.
There is something about the dry and often obnoxious Derwent that gets under my skin (in a good way), and sometimes his abruptness and political incorrectness is laugh-out-loud funny:
 “But then, I don’t know how much the cat ... er ...” 
“Shits?” Derwent suggested, sitting down again.

I am not the right person to judge whether the book would work well as a stand-alone novel, as I have hungrily devoured each one of Casey’s books, and would recommend other readers do the same. Whilst the murder-mystery would work well in its own right, part of the fun comes from watching the relationships between the detectives evolve over time. Kerrigan herself was the one I felt had changed the most in this latest instalment, with her new responsibilities making her not only more mature but also weighing her down to a point where it seems that burn-out is not too far away. Still prepared to take risks for the sake of finding justice, this new Kerrigan is somewhat more tired and disillusioned than in previous novels, which makes me wonder how her career will progress in future books in the series. Derwent, whilst still blundering into action with the finesse of an elephant in a china shop, has acquired a few new soft edges with his new relationship with Melissa and being a step-dad to Thomas from After the Fire. Adding new blood in the form of DC Shaw added a new dimension to the team and made for some interesting dynamics – I will be watching this space very closely to see how it plays out.

Let the Dead Speak is a cleverly constructed mystery by a master on top of her game. As each layer of lies gets stripped away, a new truth is uncovered, like a whole series of Russian dolls cleverly slotted into each other, each with a different face and new reality. Slowly, carefully, each thread of the story is woven together to form a whole, which is totally different from the one first constructed when I started to read the story. This is not a book where you can be complacent for a single moment. Packing punch after punch, it left me somewhat stunned and exhausted after a night of compulsive reading like only the best of the best can do. I thoroughly enjoyed Let the Dead Speak and recommend it highly to all lovers of the series. If you have not read any books by Jane Casey yet, you are definitely missing out!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 


You spent a few hours judging someone else for how they lived and it gave you perspective on your own life, whether you wanted it or not.

He wasn’t a morning person. He wasn’t an afternoon of evening person either.

Burt’s attention swung around to Derwent, and it was like seeing an artillery piece wheeling into position.

It took a practiced back-stabber to slide the knife in without checking for a reaction.

There is no loathing like self-loathing.

Image result for 4.5 stars

If you like a good police procedural, I recommend starting this series from the beginning:
The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan... Maeve Kerrigan series, by Jane Casey

You may also enjoy:

Now You See Me (Lacey Flint... Lacey Flint series, by S.J. Bolton
In the Woods (Dublin Murder... Dublin Murder Squad series, by Tana French

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