A few years ago I read a debut detective novel by Jane Casey which I enjoyed until the last third when I thought it got rather silly and rushed. I reviewed the book and said this in my post and then Jane got in touch with me and I felt horrid about my comments. She was delightful about it all and her replies are attached to this earlier review of mine which you can find here.
Well since then she has written a series of novels about DC Maeve Kerrigan and they get better and better. If you read these, and I hope you do, then I recommend that you start at the very beginning ('a very good place to start'..) as the development of the characters runs through all the stories and a lot of back information which is relevant to the later books is given.
In her latest The Kill, there is a cop killer on the loose terrorising London and Maeve and her abrasive partner and boss, Josh Derwent, do not have a clue, literally, as to why. I simply cannot tell you any more than this without going into detail and spoiling the plot and the story and I would hate to do that as it is her best so far in my humble and I could not put it down until the final page. I realised that somewhere along the line I had missed out on the previous title, The Stranger you Know, could not work out why and was very cross about this. Wifi in Robin Hood'a Bay, where I was staying, was patchy to say the least and I could not get a signal to download to my Kindle. Lo and behold, later on in the day when I was rummaging in the local bookshop I came across a copy of the book I wanted and fell upon it with cries of joy.
In this story women, vulnerable and lonely women, are being preyed upon and murdered and it seems the killer has no difficulty getting close to them. His profile and evidence left at the scene and the style of the murders seems to point the finger of suspicion at DI Derwent, Maeve's colleague with whom she has an abrasive relationship. Lots of plot twists and ins and outs and I was delighted to have two super books featuring these characters to read. I am loving the relationship between Maeve and Josh and looking forward very much to the next story and the next case.
And now for something completely different. The latest in the Grantchester Mysteries, Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil by James Runcie. You could not find a bigger contrast in style and content after the tension and thrills of the two Jane Casey books. I think the best way to describe the pace of this series as 'ambulatory', there is no rush, no hurry, all is discovered and sorted out in a quiet, understated way, no mad stabbings or frenzied killings. Makes Miss Marple look positively skittish.
Each book contains four or five short stories, or long short stories if you know what I mean and I think this is an excellent way to present them. Rather feel there is not enough weight for a full length novel. In the latest
we are reaching the Sixties, Sidney is married to Hildegarde, he is happy in his marriage and leading a quiet life.(Have to admit I am not too keen on Hildegarde, feel he should have married Amanda). But we know that things will happen and first up we have a serial killer targeting clergy (and yes I said these are gentle books, even a serial killer does not seem to ruffle the surface); disappearance of a painting; a drowning on a film shoot which is not an accident and a baby stolen from a hospital.
Much though I enjoyed this book my attention did begin to wander after a while as I felt the narrative was verging on the aimless at times, something I found with the First Ladies Detective Agency series. Yes, taking one's time and being philosophical and thoughtful is ok but occasionally you want something, anything,to happen.
This is a series of six books set in post war England and coming up to date and in order to place them there are references to the Beatles, President Kennedy etc just to remind us where we are and this can become a tad annoying at times. Also a sneaky thought crept into my mind when I read the first title, to whit that this would make a perfect TV series. Did the author have this in mind? Six books with four adaptable mysteries in each, three filmed at a time, eight series ready to go. Cynical moi? yes I know but no surprise that there is indeed a series in the offing and gather it is being filmed in the ever amenable Oxford. Just hope that Sidney did not bang into Hathaway and Lewis who are also filming at the moment.
Yes I enjoyed Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil but in a very muted way. On a sunny day in the garden with a glass of something cool to hand they are very enjoyable.
Actually, correction, you need a cup of tea and a scone....