"Casey is a true craftswoman, a writer who beguiles one through the most twisted of plots with a confident and seductive hand.
Let The Dead Speak is sharp, complex and gripping to the very end"
Alex Marwood, bestselling author of Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.
London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?
As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.
With Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion.
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It had been raining for fifty-six hours when Chloe Emery came home. The forecast had said to expect a heatwave; it wasn't supposed to be raining.
And Chloe wasn't supposed to be home.
She came out of the station and stopped, shifting her big black bag from one shoulder to the other. The rain poured off the awning, splashing onto the pavement in front of her. It coursed into the gutters where filthy water was already swirling, dark and gritty, freighted with rubbish and twigs and dead leaves. Chloe's T-shirt clung to her back and her stomach. She twitched the material away from her skin, self-conscious about the swell of her breasts. She hadn't ever really thought about them until her stepmother had mentioned them.
"Big girl like you, you need a better bra. Better support. You can't blame men for looking, you know." A thin, spiteful smile. "You might as well enjoy it, though. They'll be down to your knees in no time and no one will care then."
It had taken Chloe a long time to understand what she meant, which had annoyed Belinda. She still didn't know why Belinda was angry with her about her body, or people looking at her. A wave of unease passed over Chloe, remembering — the familiar nausea of not knowing things that other people took for granted. It wasn't her fault; she did try.
There was no point in waiting for the rain to stop. Chloe bent her head and trudged away from the station. Her clothes and hair were saturated within a couple of minutes, her jeans cold and heavy, dragging against her skin. Every raindrop felt like a finger tapping on her head, her shoulders, her back. Her shoulder was burning where the bag strap rubbed it. There were no other pedestrians, except for a mother pushing a buggy on the opposite pavement, striding fast, the hood on her sensible anorak pulled down low over her face. Who would be out for a walk on a wet Sunday afternoon if they didn't have to be? Not Chloe, not feeling the way she did, sick and tired and still a bit sore. But there was no one to meet her at the station. No one knew she was there.
A car engine hummed on the street behind her and she didn't think anything of it, even when it got louder and closer. It wasn't until the car pulled in ahead of her with a jerk of the brakes that she noticed it in any detail. The driver was leaning forward to peer into the rear-view mirror, adjusting it so she could see his eyes staring into hers. The fear came first, a thud that shook her chest as if someone had kicked her. Then recognition: it wasn't a stranger watching her walk toward him. It was a neighbor. More than a neighbor: it was Mr. Norris, who lived across the road from her, who always smiled and asked her how she was, who had very bright eyes and white teeth and was Bethany's father. Bethany was younger than Chloe but she knew so much more about everything.
Chloe went over to the car, peering in through the window he'd lowered on the passenger side.
"Where are you off to? Going home? Jump in, I'll give you a lift."
Mr. Norris never waited for an answer. She'd noticed that before. She didn't know if it was because she was so slow or if he was like that with everyone.
"I don't need a lift."
"Course you do. You've got that heavy bag." He was smiling at her, his eyes fixed on hers. She stared at the bridge of his nose, unaware that it made her look slightly cross-eyed. "How come your mum didn't pick you up?"
"I can manage." It wasn't a proper answer, and Chloe's palms were wet from the fear he'd ask again, but there were good things about being thick and not having to answer questions properly was one of them.
"Now you don't have to manage. Stick your bag in the back and jump in."
There was no point in arguing, Chloe knew. She trailed to the other end of the car and put her hand on the latch for the boot. It clicked and she tried to lift it. Nothing happened. She returned to the window.
"Not the boot. Put it on the back seat, I meant." He bit off the ends of the words, obviously annoyed. And he hadn't said the boot, Chloe thought, mortified. He'd said the back and she'd assumed he meant the boot. She'd got it wrong, as usual.
She fumbled one of the doors open and dumped her bag on the seat, then opened the passenger door and hesitated.
"Get in. What are you waiting for?" He was checking his mirrors, scanning the pavements. Getting ready to drive off, Chloe thought, remembering that and not much more from the three humiliating lessons that were the sum total of her driving experience.
She got into the car, scrambling to close the door and get her seatbelt on before he got annoyed again. He helped her with the seatbelt, smoothing it out carefully across her lap before he slid the metal tongue into the lock. The belt flattened the thin, sodden material of her T-shirt against her body and she thought he was staring at her chest for a second, but he wasn't, probably. That was just her stepmother and what she'd said. He was a dad, after all. He was old.
"So where've you been? Away somewhere nice?"
"Oh yeah?" Mr. Norris went quiet for a minute, concentrating on the road. It didn't occur to Chloe that he was choosing his words carefully. "See much of him?"
"I've never actually met him."
Chloe stared out of the window, not thinking about her father and the last time she'd seen him, not thinking about how angry he would be now, now that he'd realized she was gone. Not thinking about that took up all of her mental energy. He might have phoned her mother, she thought with a sudden lurch of fear. She hadn't thought of that.
Mr. Norris was talking, words filling the air in the car, telling Chloe about his weekend, about Bethany and what she was doing during the school holidays, about nothing that mattered to her. She stopped listening, drifting a little as the windscreen wipers sang across the glass, until something touched her knee — Mr Norris's hand was on her leg. She stared at it in mute panic until he moved it away.
The car had stopped outside her house, she realized, the engine still running.
"You can get out here. I won't make you run across the road in this weather."
"OK. Thanks." She reached down to push the seatbelt's release button but he got there first. "Thanks," she said again.
"No problem." He was frowning at her. "Chloe, love, are you all right? You look a bit —"
"I'm fine." She pulled on the door handle and it didn't open and her heart rate went spiraling up like a bird spinning through clear air but he reached across her and gave it a swift shove and it came open. His arm brushed against her chest as he drew it back, but that was just an accident, the contact brief.
"Needs a firm hand."
"Oh," Chloe whispered. Her ears were hot, her pulse thudding so hard that she could barely hear him, but he was still talking. She got out of the car without waiting for him to stop, slamming the door on him. She turned to scurry up the path, glancing up at the house to see Misty in the window of the front bedroom, her paws braced on the glass, miaowing with all her might. The horn blared behind Chloe twice, very loud. It made her jump but she didn't look back, her whole being focused on her need to go inside without saying anything else, or crying, one two three four five six seven at the front door eight nine ten eleven keys out twelve thirteen the right key in the lock and the door was opening and she almost fell through it into the narrow, long hallway but she got it shut behind her in the same moment and that was it, she was alone except for Misty, and she could collapse or scream or crawl into a corner and shake or chew her nails until they bled again or any of the things she'd been holding back for days now.
Misty hadn't come down the stairs yet, she registered, and as if in response a thunder of scratching — sharp-clawed paws on wood — echoed through the still, silent house. The cat was shut in, then. Mum had shut her in. Chloe put her keys on the hall table. She should let the cat out.
Unless the cat wasn't supposed to be out.
Chloe started toward the stairs.
There was a mark on the wall. A big one. A smear, with four lines running through it like tracks. Chloe's eyes tracked from the smear to the ground, to the droplets that ran down the wall and trickled over the skirting board and puddled on the ground. It was dark, whatever it was. Dirty.
Something that would make her mother furious.
Maybe that was why the cat was shut in, Chloe thought. Maybe that was it. Misty had made a mess. She started up the stairs, one hand resting lightly on the banisters, and it felt wrong, it was rough, as if something had dried on it, some more of the same dirt. Chloe looked down at it, at the stairs, and then at the hall below, and her legs were still carrying her up but her brain was working, trying to make sense of what she saw and what she felt and what she smelled and the carpet, the carpet was ruined in the hall upstairs, it was dirty and soaked and smeared and the pictures were all crooked.
Behind the closed door Misty set to work, digging her claws under the wood, splintering it as she scraped.
Let her out.
What had happened? The bathroom door was open but it was too dark in there, darker than it should have been. The whole house was dark. There was no reason to look, Chloe told herself.
She didn't want to look.
... scratch scratch scratch ...
Let her out.
Because if not, she'd damage the door.
Let her out.
Let her out, or there'd be trouble.
Chloe reached the door, and hesitated. She put out her hand to the handle, touching it with her fingertips. Behind the door the cat howled, outraged. She scratched again and the vibrations hummed across Chloe's skin.
Let her out.
She turned the handle and pushed the door, and a gray paw slid through the gap, dragging at it to get it open, and Misty's face, distorted as she pushed it through, her ears flat, her eyes pulled back like an oriental dragon's as she forced her way to freedom. And then the door was open enough for her to rush through it to the hallway, and for the air inside the room to rush out along with her, dense with the smell of cat shit or something worse.
Before Chloe could investigate, the doorbell shrilled. It was loud, peremptory, and there was no question of ignoring it or hiding: she had to answer it. She hurried back down, narrowly avoiding the dark shape that was Misty crouching at the top of the stairs. There was a big smear up the door, she saw now, as she reached out to open it, a big brownish smudge that ended near the latch.
The bell rang again. Through the rippled glass she could see a shape, a man, his outline blurred and distorted. With a shudder, Chloe opened the door.
"You forgot your bag, love." Mr. Norris, with rain spangling his jacket, his tan very brown, his teeth very white. He held the bag out to her but she didn't take it. She didn't have time before his eyes tracked over her shoulder and took in the scene behind her and the genial smile faded. "Jesus. Jesus Christ. Christ almighty. What the —"
Chloe turned to see what he was looking at, and she could see a lot more when the door was open. A lot more. At the top of the stairs, Misty was still squatting, her eyes glazed and wild, her mouth open. Even as Chloe watched, she bent her head and gently, tentatively, began to lick the floor.
Behind Chloe, Mr. Norris retched.
"I don't understand," Chloe said, and the panic spiraled again but she kept it down, held it back. "I don't understand what's happened. Please, what's happened?"
Mr. Norris was bent over, the back of his hand to his mouth. He shook his head and it could have been I don't know or it could have been not now or it could have been something else.
He had his eyes closed.
"Mr. Norris," Chloe said, very calmly, because the alternative was screaming. "Where's Mum?"
I sat in the car, not moving. The rain danced across the empty street in front of me. It was unusual for it to be so quiet at a crime scene. Murder always attracted crowds, but the rain was better at dispersing them than any uniformed officer. The journalists were hanging back too, sitting in their cars like me, waiting for something to happen. Walking across the road would count as something happening, so I stayed where I was. The less attention I attracted, the happier I was.
The light wasn't good, the dark clouds overhead making it feel like a winter day. I checked. Not quite six o'clock. More than three hours to sunset. Two and a half hours since the 999 call had brought response officers to the address. Two hours and ten minutes since the response officers' inspector had turned up to get her own impression of what they'd found. Two hours since the inspector had called for a murder investigation team. Ninety minutes since my phone had rung with an address and a sketchy description of what was waiting for me there.
What I saw was a quiet residential street in Putney, not far from the river. Valerian Road was lined with identical red-brick Victorian townhouses with elaborate white plasterwork and black railings, their tiled paths glossy from the rain. The residents' cars were parked on both sides of the street, most of them newish, most of them expensive.
The exception: a stretch about ten houses long where blue-and-white tape made a cordon. Inside it, police vehicles clustered, and an ambulance, the back doors open, the paramedics packing up as they prepared to move off. And halfway along the cordoned-off bit of street, a hastily erected tent hiding the doorway of the house that was my crime scene.
A stocky figure emerged from the tent, yanked down a mask and pushed back the hood of her paper overalls. Una Burt. Detective Chief Inspector Una Burt, acting up as our superintendent. The guv'nor. Ma'am. My boss. Her hair was flattened against her head: rain or sweat, I guessed. My skin was clammy already, the shirt sticking to my back, and I hadn't done anything more energetic than drive across London on a wet Sunday afternoon. It was warm still, despite the rain.
Beside me, Georgia Shaw shifted in her seat. "What are we waiting for?"
"So let's get going." She had her hand on the door handle already.
"We are murder detectives. By the time we turn up at a crime scene, by definition, nothing can be done to save anyone. So what's the rush?" She cleared her throat, because when you're a detective constable you don't say bullshit to a detective sergeant. Not unless you know them very well indeed. Even if the detective sergeant is so newly promoted she keeps forgetting about it herself.
"We're not going to find the murderer by sitting in the car, though, are we?"
"I once caught a murderer while I was sitting in a car," I said idly, more interested in the crime scene in front of me than in talking to the newest member of the murder team.
"Who was that?" Georgia narrowed her eyes, trying to remember. She had read up on me, she told me on her first day, and made the mistake of saying it in front of most of the team. If we'd been alone, I might have been able to be nice about it. As it was, I had turned on my heel and walked away, too mortified to say anything. I didn't need to. I knew my colleagues would say plenty once I was out of earshot.
Some of what they said would even be true.
"It doesn't matter," I said now. Be nice. "Ancient history. The thing to remember is that it's not a waste of time to take your time."
Georgia smiled, but in an irritable stop-telling-me-what-I-already-know way. She was strikingly self-possessed for someone who'd been a member of the team for two weeks. Maybe it was just that I expected everyone else to be as diffident as I had been. Self-confidence had never really been my strong point but it was irrational to dislike Georgia simply because she was assertive.
It was a lot more rational to dislike her because she was absolutely useless. A graduate, she was on a fast-track scheme and had been moved to my team straight after her probation. She was young, she was pretty, she was articulate and confident and ambitious and not all that interested in hard work, it seemed to me. She was a filled quota, a ticked box, and I didn't think she deserved to be on a murder investigation team.
Then again, that was exactly how the other members of the team had felt about me when I joined.
So I disliked her, but I sincerely tried not to.
Kev Cox emerged from the house, his face shiny red. He scraped back his hood and said something to Una Burt that made her smile.
Excerpted from "Let the Dead Speak"
Copyright © 2017 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love this series, every story unique with flawed main characters you love
This last chapter proofed everything I thought I knew to be wrong. Who would have thought that there could be more to the story than what Maeve Kerrigan found out in her investigation. I was pulled into this book from the start and wasn’t able to stop reading. There were so many suspects, but nothing added up and I kept biting my nails to find out who did it and why. And when the suspects were arrested and it should have been over.....it wasn’t. And yes, it took me by surprise. Love the story. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK!
Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey is the seventh installment in the Maeve Kerrigan Novels. Chloe Emery returns home to 27 Valerian Road in London from visiting her father to find blood in almost every room of her home. DS Maeve Kerrigan (she got a promotion) and her team are assigned the case. There is plenty of blood, but they have yet to find Chloe’s mother, Kate Emery. Maeve starts out by questioning Chloe, and then proceeds to canvas the neighbors. The police bring in dogs to sniff out the victim, but they are unsuccessful. They do, however, uncover some helpful clues. Then Chloe and her friend, Bethany Norris disappear. Were they taken or did they take off on their own? What is going on in this neighborhood (and I thought I had troublesome neighbors)? Maeve, with the help of DI Josh Derwent, must discern fact from fiction to identify the culprit. Maeve will need to work quickly before more blood is spilled. I had a hard time wading through Let the Dead Speak. The writing style is awkward/stilted ((clunky is a good word). The story lacks flow (an easy style of writing) which makes for a hard to read story (insert yawn here). Let the Dead Speak sounded like a thrilling mystery novel, but, in the end, I was bored. The mystery may seem complex, but the solution is not. I solved the mystery early in the book (I would say how early, but then I would be giving away a spoiler). The suspect pool is small. Let the Dead Speak is a novel I read, but I was not pulled into the story or engaged. I did, though, find a great cure for my insomnia (I have suffered from it since middle school). One chapter and my eyes started drooping. I woke up with my ebook nearby and off (happened twice in one night). My rating for Let the Dead Speak is 2 out of 5 stars. I especially disliked the transcript chapter (that is when I fell asleep for the second time). The author needed to add more suspense and a surprising twist (and shorten the book). The basic premise had potential. I do want to warn readers that Let the Dead Speak contains foul language, violence, and intimate relations. Unfortunately, the Maeve Kerrigan series is not for me.
This 'whodunit' really had me guessing all the way through. I'm not very good at working out answers to a plot at the beginning of a book, which is good in that it would spoil every book I read if I could, but I usually have a good guess. This one really did hold my attention and I had a total of seven characters who had committed the murder, I took one out of the frame for a few chapters then put him back in, I was convinced they'd all done it! This is the first book by Jane Casey I've read and, unfortunately, Let The Dead Speak is the seventh in the Maeve Kerrigan detective series. If you want to just read a great crime, detective, police procedural story this one is excellent and also works well as a stand alone novel without feeling you have lost out by not knowing the back story. Chloe Emery returns home a few days early after staying with her father. A neighbour, Mr Norris, happens to see her come out of the railway station in the pouring rain and offers to give her a lift home. Chloe is reluctant, she doesn't lime him, but gets in the car anyway. When she walks in the house she shares with her mother, there is blood all over the walls and carpets in pools and splattered arcs. With her mother missing from the house and also the amount of blood, it's obvious there's been a murder. D.S. Maeve Kerrigan has been newly promoted and it's clear there is a little friction, friendly or otherwise, between her and D.I. Josh Derwent. Kerrigan also has a new detective constable working with her, Georgia Shaw, who is intelligent, pretty and a slight distraction for Josh Derwent. Minor jealousies start to show from Maeve Kerrigan. It's apparent that Kerrigan and Derwent have a past but it doesn't distract from the story of this book. I thought this was a really well plotted story, expertly written in a way to keep us guessing all the way through. There weren't too many characters but nearly all could have been the murderer, building and adding to the tension. There was a good unexpected twist near the end which turned all that we thought we knew right on its head. The characters were well developed, often with their own problems, issues and complexities. For me, this was an excellent introduction to Jane Casey's writing and made such an impression that I will go back to the beginning of the series and work my way through from book one, The Burning.
This was my fourth book by Jane Casey and as usual, she did not let me down. This one begins with a teenager coming home early from her dad's home from a weekend stay. The real reason why is given later in the book, but the beginning having you believe it was because of her stepmother. And, believe me, if I had a stepmother like that, I don't think I would ever go to my dad's house. She is just one person in a very long list of suspects in this book. The teenager, Chloe, is a little slow and when she opens up the front door to her house, all she can see is blood everywhere. However, because Chloe is what she is, she thinks its dirt and wonders how it got everywhere like it did. On to the investigation, Maeve Kerrigan is called in to determine what actually happened in Chloe's house and the story enfolds into a very strange case. As usual, there is the action and suspense that is typical of any Jane Case book. Also the entertaining and enjoyable factor that I have come to expect with her books. A story that will have you guessing and guessing again and again. Thanks to St. Martins Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
This was the first Maeve Kerrigan crime novel that I had read, and I was impressed. In a crowded genre, it is difficult to find a new story line, but Jane Casey has achieved it. Of course, many of the traditional tropes do appear: the irascible, old school cop, Derwent, who has a surprising soft side when no-one is looking; the heroine cop, Kerrigan, putting herself in danger and nearly dying (twice!); newbie cop, Georgina, trying desperately to impress the old hands; suspicions falling on everybody in turn (neighbours, local bad boy, ex-husband, religious nutters …). But then come the differences. Firstly, Derwent seems to be the token male cop. Several other male cops get minor mentions, but are really just wallpaper. ALL the other cops – the ones in charge, the ones doing all the work, the ones making the breakthroughs – are strong female characters. Very refreshing! Secondly, there appears to have been a murder – but no body. No-one could lose so much blood and still be alive – so where did the body go? And whose body is it? Then there is Chloe, the daughter, who comes home to the blood-spattered house. Is she as mentally challenged as her mother has maintained, or is that just a ploy to get extra funding – at school, from her father, from relations – and extra sympathy from everyone, while keeping Chloe cloistered as a naïve child of eighteen. Conversely, could Chloe be the wily, manipulative perpetrator of the murder? Or are there two murderers? You do expect in a crime novel that appearances will be deceiving, but in this book, it is taken to new levels of deception and intrigue. At many stages, you think you have the mystery solved, you “know” who deserves sympathy and who doesn’t – and then another twist comes along. Few come out of this story guiltless – but, not until the end is the full extent of their guilt, and of their crimes, apparent. The crimes are not always those that could be tried in a court of law. Sometimes a lie, hypocrisy, denial, betrayal, or over-zealous religious fervour can have as devastating an effect as a stabbing. And yes, the body is eventually found – as well as some others for good measure. But not in the ways you might have guessed. This is a fast-paced tale of ever-changing perceptions, with some excellently drawn characters, motives and scenarios. I can highly recommend this book, and look forward to reading more novels in this series. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review