The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan Series #1)by Jane Casey, Sarah Coomes
The media call him The Burning Man, a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death, before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London's parks. And now the fifth victim has been found...Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve's empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice. But how do you catch a killer no one has seen? And when so much of the evidence they leave behind has gone up in smoke?
“Irish author Casey's impressive series debut, a taut serial-killer thriller, delves deeply into the psyches of three women. . . . Casey expertly combines a perceptive crime drama with an insightful look at the women's overlapping problems.” Publishers Weekly
“Casey deftly . . . cranks up the tension and pace, blending a page-turning and realistic police procedural with a tense character study reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith's psychological explorations.” Sunday Independent (Ireland) on The Burning
A South London serial killer gets too much credit.
Between September and December of 2009, four vulnerable young women walking home alone at night are brutally savaged, then set alight. DC Maeve Kerrigan, the only lass assigned to Operation Mandrake to bring "the Burning Man" to justice, is tasked with following up on the murder of a fifth victim, Rebecca Haworth. Unfortunately, when Maeve arrives at Rebecca's digs, Louise North is already there scrubbing the rooms clean. Her oldest friend, she says, was a tad messy, and she's been picking up after her since their years at Oxford. She points Maeve toward Rebecca's former boyfriend, the abusive Gil Maddick, as a possible suspect. Her apparently surprising idea makes sense because not everything about Rebecca's murder jibes with the burning man's M.O. Chief Superintendent Godley encourages Maeve to delve into Rebecca's past, which includes a cocaine addiction, a touch of blackmail and an obsession with a young man who drowned at Oxford. But matters come to an abrupt halt when a stakeout lands Maeve in the hospital with a fractured skull, her death averted only by the quick action of DC Rob Langton. As she heals, her feelings for Rob deepen. So does her belief in what and who really caused Rebecca's demise.
Casey (The Missing,2010) excels at precinct backbiting, sexism and romance. She's less surefooted at winding up her plot, resorting to a major and unlikely confession.
Read an Excerpt
By Jane Casey
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 Jane Casey
All rights reserved.
I didn't know where I was or what I was doing when the phone rang; I didn't even know that it was the phone that had woken me. I came up from miles below the surface and opened an eye as one part of my brain tried to work out what had disturbed me and another part focused on how to make the noise stop. It resolved into a low rattle that was my phone vibrating crossly on the bedside table along with the high-pitched shrill of the most annoying ring tone I could have chosen. Fumbling for it in the dark, I sideswiped it and managed to push it off the table. It fell face down in the carpet, still ringing, the sound now slightly muffled. I'd winged it but not killed it. The bonus was that now it was a little bit harder to reach. I leaned out of bed at a dangerous angle, raking the carpet with my fingers, trying to get to it.
Most of the nuance was lost in the pillow, but I interpreted Ian's comment as 'answer the fucking phone', which was pretty much what I was thinking myself. Along with what time is it? and what does this eejit want?
I got it at last and stabbed at the buttons until it stopped making a noise, trying to read the screen. LANGTON. Rob. I squinted at the time and read 03.27. Half past three in the morning and Detective Constable Rob Langton was calling me. I was waking up now, my brain starting to crank into gear, but my mouth hadn't caught up with the change of plans and was still slack with sleep. When I said hello, it sounded slurred, as if I'd been drinking for the last — I worked it out — three and a half hours instead of having some much-needed shut-eye. Three and a half hours. That made six hours of sleep in the last forty-eight. I squeezed my eyes closed and wished I hadn't added it up. Somehow, knowing the numbers made me feel worse.
'Did I wake you, Kerrigan?' I would have recognised the Manchester twang anywhere.
'You know you did. What do you want?'
I asked, but I already knew. There were only two reasons why Rob Langton would be ringing me at that hour of the morning sounding excited. One: there was another body. Two: they'd caught the killer. Either way, I wasn't going back to sleep any time soon.
'No way.' I sat up in bed and put the light on, ignoring a groan from beside me and squinting as I tried to concentrate. 'Where? How?'
'We had a bit of help. Nice young lady out on the beers with a bladed article didn't take kindly to being next on the Burning Man's list.'
'He's not dead.' My heart was pounding. If he was dead, that was it. No answers. No trial.
'Nah, he's clinging on. He's in hospital. In surgery, at the minute. Two stab wounds to the abdomen; she lacerated his bowel.'
'Yeah, couldn't happen to a nicer person.'
'Anyone we know?' I rubbed my eyes with the heel of my hand and tried not to yawn.
'Not known at all. Never been arrested before, and he hadn't come up in this enquiry.'
I sighed. That wasn't great news. We hadn't even been close to catching him, then. We'd just been lucky. Though the girl had been luckier still. I wasn't a fan of people wandering around carrying knives, but I'd seen enough dead women in the past few weeks to think it wasn't such a bad idea.
'His name's Vic Blackstaff. He had all his documents on him — driver's licence, work ID. He's in his mid-fifties, does shift work for a call centre in Epsom. Lives in Peckham. Drives through south- west London to get home in the small hours of the morning. Plenty of opportunity.'
'Older than we'd thought,' I commented. 'Shift work fits, though. Where did it happen?'
'That's quite a long way out of the usual area. Up to now he's stuck to Kennington, Stockwell — nowhere as far out as Richmond.' I was frowning.
'Yeah, but his usual area is flooded with uniforms. Makes sense that he would be hunting elsewhere, doesn't it?' Rob sounded confident and I gave a mental shrug; who was I to second-guess a serial killer?
'They're going through his car at the moment,' Rob went on. 'We're waiting at the hospital.'
'Me and the boss. And DI Judd, unfortunately. We'll be interviewing the young lady as soon as the doctors tell us we can talk to her. She's still being checked out.'
'How is she? Is she —'
I didn't want to fill in the rest of the sentence. Is she going to make it? Is she badly beaten? Is she burned? How far had he got?
'She's fine. Shaken up. Nothing wrong with her but we haven't been allowed in to see her yet. She says she's not ready.' Rob sounded impatient, which nettled me. Why shouldn't she take her time before speaking to the police? She'd had a shock. What she needed was a sympathetic ear. And I was the ideal person to provide it. Energy flooded through my limbs, adrenalin pushing fatigue into a corner, to be ignored until I had time to give in to it again. Three hours' sleep was plenty. I was already out of bed, making for the door, stumbling on rubbery legs that ached as if I'd run a marathon the day before.
'Well, I'll be there soon. Maybe they'll let me talk to her.' The perks of being the only woman in Superintendent Godley's inner circle were not legion, but now and then it came in handy.
'Why doesn't that surprise me? Nought to sixty in ten minutes, that's you.'
'That's why you phoned me, isn't it?' I was in the bathroom now, and debated whether I could risk peeing while on the phone. He'd hear. I'd have to wait.
'I knew you'd want to be here.' That was only half the story; it suited them all for me to be there. I could hear Rob grinning; he was a smug git sometimes, but I could forgive him, because when all was said and done, I did want to be there, and without a call from him, I wouldn't have known a thing about it until I'd seen it on the news.
'I'll be there in half an hour,' I said before I'd thought about it properly. It was a long way from Primrose Hill to Kingston and I desperately needed a shower. My hair was sticking to my head. There was no way I was leaving with dirty hair. Not again. 'Make that forty minutes.'
'We're in the ICU. Phones off, so ring the hospital if you need us.'
I flicked the water on before going to the loo, but even so, it wasn't even close to warm enough when I forced myself to step into the slate- lined shower area, wincing as the spray hit my goose-pimpled skin. The showerhead was the size of a dinner plate and pumped out rain-forest levels of water; it was just a shame that it never got hot enough for me. Style over substance, as usual. But it wasn't my flat so I couldn't really complain. I was sharing it, officially, but I felt more like a guest. And not necessarily a welcome one, at times.
I had balled my hands together under my chin, hugging body heat to myself, and it was an effort to unknot my fingers and reach for the shampoo once the water started to approach tepidity. Haste made me fumble the shampoo cap and I swore as I heard it skitter around the sloping tiles that led to the drain. I left it there, hearing my mother's voice in my head, sure, it can't fall any further ... Two minutes later, I stepped on it and had to muffle a yelp in the crook of my elbow as a sharp edge dug into the arch of my foot. Swearing was a help. I swore. A lot.
I scrubbed at my scalp until the muscles in my forearms complained and rinsed my hair for as long as I could allow myself to, eyes closed against the lather that slid down my face. Bliss to be clean again, joy to know that the case was coming to an end. I wanted to stay in there for ever with my eyes closed; I wanted to sleep — how I wanted to sleep. But I couldn't. I had to get going. And by the time I got out of the shower, I was what passed for awake these days.
Back in the bedroom, I tried to be quiet, but I couldn't help rattling the hangers in the wardrobe when I was taking out a suit. I heard stirring behind me in the bed and bit my lip.
I wouldn't have spoken to Ian if he hadn't spoken to me; that was the rule I observed about getting up and leaving in the middle of the night. Not that I was sure he'd ever noticed there was a rule.
'Going to meet a murderer.'
That earned me an opened eye. 'You got him. Well done.'
'It wasn't exactly all my own work, but thanks.'
He rolled over onto his back and threw an arm over his face, shielding his eyes from the light. He was in his natural position now, hogging the middle of the bed. I suppressed the impulse to push him back onto his own side and hauled the sheet up instead, tucking him in. Look, I care about you. See how thoughtful I am.
'Mmm,' was the response. He was on his way back to sleep. I slipped the dry-cleaner's bag off my suit and balled it up, squashing it into the bin. I should have taken it off sooner. The suit smelled of chemicals and I wrinkled my nose, reluctant to put it on. The forecast was for a cold day, and rain. I thought longingly of jeans tucked into boots, of chunky jumpers and long knitted scarves. God, dressing like a grown-up was a pain.
I sat on the edge of the bed to deal with my tights, coaxing them over damp skin, wary of ripping them. My hair dripped onto my shoulders, cold water running down my back. I hadn't got time for this. I hadn't got time for immaculate. Slowly, infinitely slowly, I worked the material up over my thighs and stood to haul the tights the rest of the way. It was not the most elegant moment of getting dressed, and I wasn't pleased to turn and find Ian staring at me, an unreadable expression on his face.
'So is this it?'
'What do you mean?' I slipped on a shirt, then stepped into my skirt, zipping it up quickly and smoothing it over my hips. That was better. More dignified. The waistband was loose, I noticed, the skirt hanging from my hips rather than my waist. It took the hem from on the knee to over it, from flattering to frump. I needed to eat more. I needed to rest.
'I mean is this the end of it? Are you going to be around more?'
'Probably. Not for a little while — we've got to sort out the paperwork and get the case ready for the CPS. But after that, yeah.'
If there isn't another serial killer waiting to take over from where the Burning Man left off. If nothing else goes wrong between now and Christmas. If all the criminals in London take the rest of the year off.
I was looking for shoes, my medium-heeled courts that didn't so much as nod to fashion but hey, I could wear them from now until midnight without a twinge of complaint from my feet. I could even run in them if I had to. One was in the corner of the room, where I'd kicked it off. The other I eventually found under the bed, and had to sprawl inelegantly to retrieve it.
'I hate the way they whistle and you come running.' He sounded wide awake now, and cross. My heart sank.
'It's my job.'
'Oh, it's your job. Sorry. I didn't realise.'
'Don't do this now,' I said, stabbing my feet into my shoes and grabbing my towel. 'I've got to go. It's important and you know it.'
He'd sat up, leaning on one elbow, blue eyes hostile under thick eyebrows, his brown hair uncharacteristically untidy. 'What I know is that I haven't seen you for weeks. What I know is that I'll be ringing up Camilla to say you can't come to supper after all, and is that OK, and I'm really sorry if it's mucked up her seating arrangement. What I know is that your job always seems to come first.'
I let him rant, towelling most of the water out of my hair and then dragging a comb through it, trying to get it into some sort of order. No time to dry it; it would dry on the way to the hospital. A few wisps, a lighter brown than the rest, were already curling around my face.
'Camilla works in an art gallery. She has nothing to do all day but rearrange the seating plan for her little dinner parties. It'll be a challenge for her.'
He flopped back down and stared at the ceiling. 'You always do that.'
'What?' I shouldn't have asked.
'Put down my friends because their jobs aren't as important or as worthwhile as yours.'
'For God's sake ...'
'Not everyone wants to save the world, Maeve.'
'Yeah, it's just as important to make it look nice,' I snapped, and regretted it as soon as I'd said it. Camilla was sweet, sincere, a wide-eyed innocent that brought out the protective instinct in everyone who knew her, including me. Usually. The sharpness in my voice had been partly exhaustion and partly guilt; I had been thinking of skipping the dinner party she was throwing. It wasn't that I didn't like Ian's friends — it was just that I couldn't stand the questions. Any interesting cases lately? Why haven't you caught the Burning Man yet? What's the most hideous thing you've ever seen on duty? Do you wish they still had capital punishment? Can you sort out this speeding ticket for me? It was tedious and predictable and I found it acutely embarrassing to represent the Metropolitan Police to Ian's friends. I was just one person. And traffic tickets were definitely outside my purview.
'Aren't you in a hurry?'
I checked my watch. 'Yes. Let's talk about this later, OK?'
I wanted to point out that I hadn't brought it up in the first place. Instead, I leaned across the bed and planted a kiss on the bit of Ian's chin I could reach easily. There was no response. With a sigh, I headed to the kitchen to pick up a banana, then grabbed my bag and my coat and ran down the stairs. I closed the front door with the key in the lock so I didn't wake the neighbours, though if they'd slept through my shower and relationship issues, they probably wouldn't notice the door banging. If they were at home, and not on a pre-Christmas shopping trip to New York or a winter break in the Bahamas.
I stopped for a second on the doorstep, head down, my mind whirling.
'What am I doing? What the hell am I doing?'
I hadn't meant to say it out loud, and I wasn't talking about work. I could handle work. My boyfriend was another matter. We'd been together for eight months, lived together for six, and from the moment I'd moved into Ian's place, the fighting had started. I'd fallen for a big smile, broad shoulders and a job that had nothing to do with crime. He'd told me he liked the dynamic, busy detective with long legs and no ulterior motives. I wasn't looking for a husband who could be the father to my children — yet. My eyes didn't light up with pound signs when I heard he was in banking. It was all so easy. We saw one another when we could, snatched hours in bed at his place or mine, managed dinner together every so often and when my lease came up for renewal, Ian had taken a chance, the sort of gamble that had made him rich, and invited me to move in with him in his ludicrously over-designed, expensive flat in Primrose Hill. It hadn't been a good idea. It had been a disaster. And I wasn't sure how to get out of it. After two months, we hadn't known one another, except in the biblical sense. We hadn't worked out what we had in common, or how we might spend long winter afternoons when the weather made going out an unappealing prospect. As it turned out, we stayed in bed or we fought. There was no middle ground. I started to stay longer at work, left earlier in the morning, popped into the nick over the weekend even if I wasn't on duty. The only silver lining was the overtime pay.
The night air was harsh and I shivered as I hurried down the road, my hair cold against my neck. I was glad of the coat Ian had bought me, full-length and caramel-coloured in fine wool that was really too nice for hacking about crime scenes, but he had insisted on it. Generosity was not one of his shortcomings — he was open-handed to a fault. Even allowing for the extra overtime cash, there was no way I could compete. We weren't equals, couldn't pretend to be. It was no way to live.
When I got to my car, parked where I could find a space the night before, which was not particularly close to the flat, I stopped for a second to fill my lungs with sharp-edged air and centre myself, letting the silence fill my mind. That was the idea, anyway. Somewhere an engine revved as a neighbour drove away; traffic noise was building already, even at that early hour. And I needed to be elsewhere. Enough of the Zen contemplation. I got into the car and got going.
Excerpted from The Burning by Jane Casey. Copyright © 2012 Jane Casey. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
JANE CASEY was born and raised in Dublin. A graduate of Oxford with a masters in philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin, she lives in London where she works as an editor. This is her second novel.
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This book does not concentrate on the serial-killer cases but on another burn murder victim. Reader's involvement in the characters' lives are made simple by devoting chapters to the individual named characters while having continuity to the novel. There is also some light humor in the bantering among Maeve's fellow cops and also between her and her partners. The book turned out to more of a psychological thriller than just a police procedural or a descriptive murder mystery. I am glad that Jane Casey's books will be coming to the US. It will be interesting to see how Maeve's character will develop in future books.
I was worried about the start of this book but the more I read the more I didn't want to put it down. Wonderful read.
First book in this series of British Crime fiction. A woman is found dead and burned and the police think it's the work of a serial killer on the loose....but is she? Each chapter is written first person by different characters. Not too suspenseful, but fun to read.
Consistently well written throughout. I was hoping for more of a whodunnit than a thriller, but I hung in there for the characters, who are have tremendous depth that is revealed layer by layer. A satisfying read.
Mostly enjoyed this, although I am not much on pushy, excessively competitive, young cops as heroines. Perhaps she will improve as she (and this series) matures. This book, however, is well worth reading, with a tight, well-paced plot and an interesting assortment of characters.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was not the psychological thriller I expected. The pace is fairly slow and is more of a whodunit, police procedural read. That in itself wouldn't have been a disappointment, had it better captured my attention. I did like Maeve and can easily see her character carrying a series. I also liked the character of Rob, though I wish he'd been more developed. His POV didn't enter the story until almost 3/4 through. The serial killer is a very small part of the story and, for the most part, is not the case being worked. When the killer is found, it's far too easy. The other case didn't have enough twists to leave any doubt for me as to who the real killer was. The revelation felt anticlimactic. I enjoyed the writing style, though I don't think the plot lived up to its description or its potential.
Once i had started this i didnt want to stop! Casey keeps you engaged and creates dynamic characters the reader can understand. She makes the reader feel as if they are "along for the ride!"
I love a good mystery! This was certainly an interesting story but there simply were too many twists and turns that didn't seem quite believable. This is the first book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and I will try book #2 when it comes out.
I'm a huge fan of British mysteries and was delighted to find another series to try. The personalities are perhaps not as well delineated as those in Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series, but then again, I've been reading those for so long, I feel like I am friends with the characters. I'm looking forward to book #2 and getting to know Maeve better.
This book was very good. A real "page-turner". I only get to read for about 30 minutes a day, and it was hard to stop each time. Very suspenseful, though a different writing style than I'm used to.
I was completely and utterly engrossed in this crime fiction story. It had all the components to make for a great read. Suspense, gruesome crimes,manipulative smart characters and a little touch of romance. The crime genre better be on the look out for Jane Casey, simply put she knows her stuff.
New to me author Jane Casey brings to life a character I found very likeable and easy to relate to in Maeve Kerrigan. As a detective constable working in dominantly male squad, Maeve tries to ignore inappropriate comments and innuendo she overhears within her squad. She strives to prove herself worthy to her chain of command by trying to be the best investigator she can be. In addition, her dedication to her job puts a strain on her personal relationships with her family and boyfriend. At the height of The Burning Man serial killer investigations, a new homicide brings more questions instead of answers. The more Maeve learns about the latest victim causes Maeve to wonder if the crime is being perpetrated by the same suspect or if a new monster is loose in London. I really enjoyed the premise of the story and the way the plot is peppered with multiple layers that reveal the victim’s dark past and events that led to her death. The big reveal came as a great surprise to me. The author does an excellent job of tying all of the loose ends together to make the finale more believable. Overall, I found The Burning to be a very good beginning to what, I believe, will be a series that will appeal to fans of mysteries and police procedural novels. This series has characters that the reader will enjoy meeting, getting to know and caring for. I enjoyed the passion that Maeve brings to her job and the justice she seeks for her victims. I look forward to the next book in this series.
This book does not concentrate on the serial-killer cases but on another burn murder victim which was very disappointing for me. I was so looking forward to the hunt for the serial-killer. This book starts out with a high pass and then slows down. There is a lot of needless description that could have been left out. I felt the book was longer then it needed to be but all in all was a nice read. She does include the answers to the question you might have at the end of the book which was nice. I had question at the first could that be, that doesn’t seem correct and I was thinking correct in my thinking. I had the murder worked out pretty early in the story. This was certainly an interesting story at times I was lost but it got interesting back and forward it went. The writing style is good I am just use to more out of a mystery, crime and suspense. I felt the author knew what she was talking about and it shows in her style. I am sure there are or readers who will love this story but for me it just didn’t do it. The narrative is told in the alternating voices of Louise, Rebecca's best friend, and Detective Kerrigan. Although the ending is somewhat predictable, the story is good and the characters are well developed. It's not a typical fast paced suspense thriller but has a good plot and wonderful characters.
I read a really good new author this week. Her name is Jane Casey and the book was "The Burning". So far, there are four books in this series featuring Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan. The book is based in London and is a police procedural/who done it. The media has labeled the latest serial killer stalking London's women The Burning Man. He bludgeons his victims mercilessly then sets them on fire, leaving each woman dead and burning in one of London's parks. A large task force has been set up but The Burning Man has been lucky so far, leaving little evidence for the police to go on. DC Maeve Kerrigan is given the task of collecting evidence around the fifth victim, Rebecca Haworth. As the task force chases down leads, Maeve starts to wonder whether this latest victim just might be a copy cat and not actually be the fifth victim of The Burning Man. Now she has to prove her theory without annoying her bosses. The main character, DC Kerrigan is an enthusiastic cop with a keen mind. The problem is that her colleagues just don't take her seriously, she's a woman and she's Irish, two strikes against her. The prejudice against her is palpable, her peers in the department think she's too compassionate and that her empathy makes her a week player, but to do her job Maeve must ignore the jeers and whispers behind her back. She wants to prove her worth, she's a good cop and she loves her job no matter what. Jane Casey's first book in the DC Kerrigan series is a solid four out of five stars. The Burning allows the reader to get to know the main character, Kerrigan, and how she functions in her job. The Burning kept my interest throughout the book as I tried to decipher just who killed these women and did the serial killer also murder the last victim. It really kept me guessing and trying to figure out the motive that each player had. I will certainly be adding Jane Casey to my author reading list and I'm looking forward to the next police procedural starring Detective Constable Kerrigan. Maeve is a terrific new character and will keep my interest through many books in a series. If you like trying to figure out who done it, this is a terrific read, giving many psychological details of the possible suspects. Go out and try this author.
In a good ole boy world, an ambitious detective constable, Maeve Kerrigan finds she is considered weak for seeing the victims and their families as human, as opposed to just part of another case. But is her compassion and empathy misguided or is a powerful tool in her arsenal as an investigator? The Burning man is on the loose, butchering, bludgeoning and murdering his victims before setting them ablaze. The parks of London have become unsafe. Is there something different about victim number five? Is it a twisted copycat? The chase is on for justice and to stop this twisted killer. Will Maeve prove her worth among her fellow detectives? Time is running out and London is in danger from the evil lurking in the shadows. Told from the POV’s of both Maeve and the fifth victim’s best friend, Louise, we are in the moment with them as they delve into the victim’s life. They are searching for clues that will prove or disprove a copycat and hopefully see justice rule. The Burning by Jane Casey is a firm foundation for her new series, written with the sharp style of a good detective, police procedural mystery. The weaving of the two POVs create the full tale, like a giant jigsaw puzzle as the last gratifying piece is put in place. The journey through The Burning is not so much focused on the killer, but on the process of justice and reeling in the truth. I received this copy from Minotaur in exchange for my honest review.
Good story and characters. I would definitely read more of her books.
I discovered this series a few weeks ago and am now listening to the third book in the series. Because of my work commute, I listen to many of my authors on CD, and Sarah Coomes does a good job of creating well performed individually recognizable voices. Maeve Kerrigan, the protagonist for whom the series is named, is interesting and compelling. In fact, all of the characters in the book are well developed, and as I begin the third book, they are developing further. Whether you read it in book form or listen to it in audio, I do recommend you give the Jane Casey series a try.