Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Burning, by Jane Casey ($15.99)

DC Maeve Kerrigan is the prickly creation of Jane Casey, a young Irishwoman who studied at Oxford and is a children's book editor. Maeve's a young policewoman who has made her way onto an ace investigative team. She's teased about her Irish heritage, her temper, her good looks. She's determined to show that she deserves to be on the team. When her team begins investigating the "Burning Man" serial murders, she has her chance.

Late at night, young women are being brutally murdered. Then their bodies are set afire. Casey could have written a grislier, more graphically violent book, but she doesn't linger on the scenes of death. (However, this is not a cat-who-solved-the-crime sort of book either.)

When the body of a young woman, Rebecca Haworth, is discovered, there are some small discrepancies between her manner of death and that of the other victims. Maeve feels that she may be the victim of a copycat killer. With the support of her superintendent and fellow DC, Rob Langton, she begins to dissect Rebecca's life.

What Maeve finds are Louise, a possessive friend, Gil, a possibly abusive ex-boyfriend, a mysterious incident in Oxford, and a picture of a young woman gone off the rails. But does any of it mean that Rebecca was not another burning victim? 

Casey alternates narratives mostly between Maeve and Louise. Louise's voice is the more interesting because we can follow her fascination with all things Rebecca, including her ex-boyfriend. Maeve's character is initially a little scattered and hard to grasp, both angry and unsure, vulnerable and independent, obsequious and sarcastic. In the end she's more a smart cookie than a smart aleck.

I enjoyed this book enough that it will be good to see another episode in Maeve's life, should Casey desire to write a series.

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