HarperCollins | 2020 (16 April) | 400p | Review copy | Buy the book
When a severed hand is pulled out of the Thames, a case begins for DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent that will strike at the heart of London’s establishment. Further remains are discovered and they’re identified as young journalist Paige Hargreaves. Paige had been working on a story involving the Chiron Club, a private society for some of the richest men in London, men who are so privileged that they need something extra in their lives, something criminal and very dark indeed. This is a world in which its members all have secrets and are prepared to lie, even kill, to protect their own and Maeve and Josh know that they are going to have to solve this the hard way, at great risk to themselves, as the net around them begins to close.
The Cutting Place is the eighth novel in Jane Casey’s superb Kerrigan and Derwent series and I think it represents a landmark book in a series that has excelled from the beginning. You could read it on its own quite easily and enjoy it for the superb crime thriller it is but, if you’ve been a fan, like me, of these two detectives for quite some time, then this book will make your jaw drop. And I don’t say that lightly because that sort of thing is often claimed for a book and it doesn’t always deliver, leading to disappointment. But there’s none of that here. I love Maeve and Josh. I love their unusual relationship, which is often not easy, it’s certainly complicated, and it can be agonising. I love their personalities. Both can be frustrating and irritating but Maeve in particular is as tough as nails and yet as vulnerable as one could be. Josh knows this. His protection of her is intense. Their relationship is platonic, which might surprise some of their colleagues, but it’s certainly very real.
In The Cutting Place, the stunning mystery shares centre stage with events in the lives of both Maeve and Josh as things happen that make them both change their attitude to what they see around them. It makes things more tetchy, more difficult and heartrending. And then something happens that knocks the ground out from under our feet and we want to hold these two very real people close, especially one of them. I’m not going to talk here about any of that as you need to go into it on your own. These are dark issues and Jane Casey, the most fantastic of writers, deals with it beautifully and with such heart.
With no doubt at all, and like others have said, The Cutting Place is the best in a series that is very fine indeed. This is an extraordinary achievement! To better something that is nigh on perfect in itself. The writing is beautiful, the tension is tight, the characters are fascinating and complex. We’re taken into some difficult places and we see some of the worst and best of behaviour. It’s gripping throughout and utterly engrossing. If you haven’t read this series before, do give it a go. Maeve and Josh are people you will want in your literary lives. The crime shelf is a crowded place but The Cutting Place most definitely stands out.