HarperCollins | 2019 (18 April) | 368p | Review copy | Buy the book
Leo Stone was sentenced to life for the murder of two women but now, just a year later, he is about to be released ahead of a retrial after a juror’s prejudice was revealed. Doubt has also fallen on the findings of the pathologist who has since died. DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are given the task of reinvestigating the evidence, to make it safe, to ensure that when Leo Stone is next put away it will be for good. But Stone is now on the streets again and when another woman goes missing it’s hard not to jump to conclusions. There is also another woman who vanished some years before and Kerrigan is convinced that she is also part of the original case. This young woman has never received justice. Kerrigan will not rest until she can give it. But she can’t help the feeling that she has doubts. Might they have got it wrong after all? Could Leo Stone be an innocent man?
Cruel Acts is the eighth novel to feature Kerrigan and Derwent and what a pair they are! I love the mysteries in these novels but there is no doubt that the stars of the series are these two sparring detectives. Their relationship fairly sizzles on occasion but there is as much hate as there is love. In fact, Kerrigan would insist there’s no love at all. And yet the two have knotted their lives together in so many ways while each has his or her own relationships. In fact, Derwent can’t help poking his nose into Kerrigan’s lovelife, trying to push it along, and this drives Kerrigan mad.
I love reading about these two and it’s helped along by Jane Casey’s fantastic writing. Kerrigan’s first person narrative, which is mixed with a third person narration in other parts of the novel, is superb. It’s witty and prickly. Kerrigan is frustrating at times, just as Derwent can be annoying and bullish, but she is so easy to empathise with. These two are a lot of fun to read about. Their strange relationship is clear quite early on in the book and so I think you could quite easily enjoy Cruel Acts without having read the others.
The mystery revealed in Cruel Acts is fantastic. Jane Casey always comes up with such brilliant murder mysteries and she’s done it again here. It is a serial killer crime but there’s a bit more to it than that. You know that this isn’t going to be straightforward and it isn’t, but it’s certainly menacing, sinister, frightening, and unexpected. I had my money on quite a few different suspects. I do like a crime novel that keeps me guessing. I would have thought, though, that by now Kerrigan would have a better idea how to keep herself out of trouble…
The ‘cruel acts’ of the title give this novel its menace and tension, and a very real sense of evil. Some of this book made my skin crawl. I also liked Kerrigan’s commitment to find justice for the poor girl who vanished. We meet the victims’ families and it’s painful to see how each family deals with their grief in different ways. This is powerful stuff. This series has such a warmth to it – and how could it not when it has Kerrigan and Derwent in it to give it its heart? I long for more.