HarperCollins | 2017 (9 March) | 400p | Review copy | Buy the book
When 18-year-old Chloe comes home from a long weekend at her father’s house, she returns to a house covered in blood. Blood runs down the stairs, it pools on the floor, it smears on the walls and doors. Chloe’s mother Kate is gone but there’s no body to be seen, just the cat imprisoned in one of the rooms upstairs. DS Maeve Kerrigan has no doubt that murder has been committed and when she and her team take a look at the other residents of well-to-do Valerian Road in West London, she finds she has no shortage of suspects. Whether DI Derwent will prove a help or hindrance in Kerrigan’s investigations is another matter entirely.
So begins a thoroughly intriguing crime mystery that largely revolves around the people of Valerian Road – and what an intriguing and suspicious bunch they are, including religious zealots and a rather charismatic and appealing ex-criminal. With no victim, it’s up to Kerrigan to get inside the head of Kate Emery, tracing her relationships past and present. But above all else, she needs to discover whatever it is that has put the fear of God into young Chloe Emery.
Let the Dead Speak is the seventh Maeve Kerrigan novel by Jane Casey. Although it’s only my second, I couldn’t wait to read it after reading the previous one in the series, After the Fire. Let the Dead Speak stands alone very well, as did After the Fire, and I’ve had no trouble in getting emotionally involved in the tension and frisson between Kerrigan and the one-of-a-kind Derwent. I love the banter. I love the sparks – as well as the efforts of colleagues to understand exactly what’s going on between the two. There may be insults, Derwent might drive Kerrigan mad, but there’s a depth of care there that is apparent to all of us – except Kerrigan and Derwent. It’s just as well as these two seem to get bruised and battered in the course of their jobs on a regular basis. No wonder they worry about one another. Not that they’d admit it, of course.
As you’d expect from Jane Casey, Let the Dead Speak has an excellent plot – I love the way in which it develops thanks to the expert detective skills of Kerrigan. But the plot is backed up by some fine writing and characterisation. Kerrigan and Derwent can make errors in judgement, sometimes caused by their own relationship, and they make them here, but no one can doubt their determination to put things right, whatever the cost. Kerrigan has a new DC to deal with and that makes things a whole lot worse. This is an emotional rollercoaster of a read and I loved that, just as I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery that twists its way through the pages. Chloe is beautifully drawn and leaves an unforgettable impression on the novel.
Let the Dead Speak is one of those utterly compelling books I did not want to put down. At times the novel made me laugh but more than anything it made me care for the people in it and that is all thanks to Jane Casey’s superb writing. I can’t recommend this series enough.
After the Fire
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