Friday, May 30, 2014

Jane Casey: The Burning

In her debut novel (2010) and first book in her Maeve Kerrigan series. Jane Casey takes readers to both the high and low life of London's parks where a young constable is trying to make a name for herself:

The Burning Man, is the name the London media has given it's latest serial killer. He is known for his randomness and his choice to burn the bodies of each of his victims. Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has been assigned to the task force and desperately wants to make a name for herself. However, being the youngest and the lowest in seniority plus being a woman means that she often gets the jobs no one else wants. When a fourth victim is found Maeve is assigned to dig into the victim's life and determine where she was the night of her murder. As Maeve digs more into the crime scene and the victim's past, she is more and more convinced that there is more than one killer now roaming free in London.

For the most part this book is not about the serial killer, The Burning Man, that the premise states it is and really as the title insinuates as well, I am not sure why the premise (not the one above, but the one on all the book sites) was written this way or why this title was chosen as it is very misleading. Mauve (love her name by the way) is tasked to investigate a murder that appears to be done by the Burning Man but might also have been used cover another killer's tracks. This means that she has to dig into the victim's life and try to figure out where the victim was the night of the murder and whether someone could have wanted her dead. I think this is what makes the book slower than most readers will want it to be or were expecting. There is not a large body count that occurs within the book (there are three previous victims before the reader enters into the story), there is no interaction with the serial killer but what this book has it the feel of what a real police investigation is like. It is not all guns blazing, kicking down doors and wild theory chasing; this book had more of a feel for how an investigation goes.. It can be slow, you need to follow all the leads you can and at times you really just need to follow your gut, which makes this book a who-done-it mystery with a small sub plot with a serial killer.

I'm on the fence with Maeve, there were times that I really liked her and her willingness to follow up all the leads that she has and really just wanting to go with her gut on certain things, which sometimes paid off and other time it did not. However, there were times when I felt like she wanted to please her boss too much, was looking for all kinds of praise or notes within his body language that she had done a good job (made me think she had a crush on him when it first happened) and tries too hard to prove that she is just one of the guys.

The format was different it changes chapter by chapter between Mauve and Louise and later on in the novel Rob. You will probably question why there is a point of view given by Louise in the book (I know I did), who is the latest victim's best friend but you understand why as the novel progresses, and you really get to see more into the newest victim's life through Louise and more of what her previous boyfriend was like as well.

This novel is a solid start to a series, but this book is not the thriller that the premise portrays it to be it really is more of a who-done-it mystery, so if you are looking for something more on that pace then this book is for you. I'm interested to see how Casey develops Maeve's character further and to see how she develops as a detective constable.

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