This is the fourth in a series of catch up posts with short reviews of books that I’ve read over the past couple of months but haven’t been able to get round to writing about in any great detail. It’s not meant to imply that the books are in anyway inferior to those which get a post to themselves, just that I tend to read faster than I can blog and it seems better to provide a brief comment than nothing at all.
Silent Kill ~ Jane Casey
Silent Kill is a novella that fits in between the last two of Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan novels and unlike the short stories from Ben Aaronovitch which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, it very definitely does add to the ongoing narrative of the series. For the last three novels Maeve, now a detective sergeant, has been plagued by the presence of DC Georgia Shaw. Georgia, a fast track entry to the force, rubs all her colleagues up the wrong way. She wants their attention, their recognition, to be included in everything that’s going on without quite seeming to realise that she has to earn both the respect and the right to the involvement that she seeks. Now, for the first time, Casey tells us a story from Georgia’s point of view and in doing so, offers some insight into why she behaves as she does.
15-year-old Minnie Charleston, a pupil at Lovelace, a private school in Battersea, is found dead in the seat she has occupied for the past few stops on a London bus. During the course of her journey several passengers have sat next to her but none of them appear to have noticed anything out of the ordinary. Given that she has been stabbed one of them must surely be the culprit but CCTV is frequently blurred by other members of the public coming and going on the journey and so each of the passengers must be traced and interviewed.
As the team try to discover more about Minnie herself a disturbing picture begins to form. Clearly neglected at home (“some of the parents are more available and engaged than others,” says her headteacher) the teenager has turned into a bully and become caught up with right wing extremists. There are a good many people who might wish this young lady harm. Perhaps even more disturbing, however, for Georgia is that inevitably as we read on we see the parallels between Minnie and the police officer. Much of Georgia’s ineptitude is the result of the relationship that she has with her mother, who has never got over the loss from cancer of her beloved older daughter and who treats the younger sibling as if she is worthless. Georgia doesn’t know how to interact with and value others because she has never had an adequate role model.
Given that this occupies a timeslot before the action that takes place in The Cutting Place, I’m tempted to go back now and re-read that just to see if there is any indication that Georgia has matured somewhat as a result of the insights she seems to be gaining by the end of this novella.
After the Fire ~ Jo Spain
Tom Reynolds may have moved on from his position at the head of the Murder Squad in Dublin but even though he now holds the top job at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation that doesn’t mean that he can’t still stick his nose in when a new and interesting case develops, in this instance the aftermath of a house fire early one July morning. When it becomes apparent that the two bodies found in the house were already dead before the fire began and that the sole apparent witness is a young Russian woman who can only tell them “I couldn’t save the baby“, Tom and the team, now led by DCI Laura Lennon, have to face the fact that they are looking for something more than just an arsonist. As the facade of respectability built up by the occupier of the house, Matteo Russo, begins to crumble, Tom and Laura realise they are dealing with the consequences of a falling out within the organised-crime world. However, getting to the roots of just which gangs are involved is not as easy as it might have been at one time. The once “big“ man behind much of the crime scene in Dublin, Patrick “BLT“ Cowell, is serving a life sentence in jail and it isn’t apparent who, if anyone, has picked up the reins of his empire. If there is a new major player in town, then the police don’t know who it is.
Laura, her team depleted by the decision of the powers that be to focus on gun crime, calls in the assistance of Natasha McCarthy, head of sexual crimes, as it becomes clear that the more likely evil at the root of the conflagration is human trafficking. Tyanna, the young Russian girl still recovering in hospital, is nevertheless obviously being threatened by someone and when Nina Cusack, a drug addict, returns to her family home after a two-year absence, her parents realise that she too has been involved and is still frightened of some sort of retribution.
The investigation pinpoints an apparently respectable solicitor, Hugo de Burgh, who thinks every bit as highly of himself as Jane Austen’s Grande Dame of the same name. Was de Burgh merely a client of what it is now clear was an active brothel, or does his presence on the CCTV point to a more sinister involvement? Former chief superintendent, Joe Kennedy, “the champion of horizontal career moves“ and still a thorn in Tom’s side, pinpoints him as “the go-to man for half of the gangsters in Dublin”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is also a murderer and an arsonist.
Meanwhile, Tom is in trouble at home. He is supposed to be on holiday and his wife, Louise, doesn’t appreciate the hours that he is putting in on what should be Laura‘s case. She is initially delighted, therefore, when he suggests they take a short break in Newcastle, less so when she discovers that he is looking for more information about the man who is now their main suspect. However, it is in Newcastle that the case finally begins to come together and the race is now on to find and save the baby whose fate has so troubled Tyanna.
I came to Jo Spain‘s novels quite late in the series, which was a delight because it meant I had several investigations to catch up with. This latest is every bit as good as the earlier ones and if you haven’t yet made the acquaintance of Tom Reynolds and his team then I recommend them to you very warmly.