Detective Maeve Kerrigan is away for a colleague's wedding, and she's enjoying an excuse to spend a beautiful fall weekend relaxing in the English countryside. It's a much-needed break from the grit and grime of her daily life on the London police force. But even at a wedding, the job is never far away.
Midway through the reception, Maeve and her abrasive but loyal partner on the police force, DI Josh Derwent, are called back to London. A fellow policeman has been murdered, in a compromising position in a public park at night. And when Maeve and Derwent arrive to speak with the victim's family, his wife and daughter are surprisingly cold and reticent, which adds further layers of complexity to an already delicate investigation. And Maeve knows the victim and his family aren't the only ones with things to hide: the dark secret that her boss, Superintendent Godley, has been keeping for years is threatening to blow up in his face, and if that happens, they'll all be caught in the aftermath.
Pulled between her loyalties to Godley, Derwent, the victim of a murder, and her own driving sense of right and wrong, Maeve will be forced to decide how much she's willing to risk in the name of justice in The Kill, Jane Casey's most intimate, compelling novel yet.
About the Author
JANE CASEY was born and raised in Dublin. A graduate of Oxford with a master's of philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin, she lives in London, where she works as an editor. The Kill is her fifth novel in the Maeve Kerrigan series.
Read an Excerpt
By Jane Casey
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Jane Casey
All rights reserved.
Afterward, everyone agreed on one thing: she was a beautiful bride. Christine Bell was always pretty, but on her wedding day she glowed with happiness. A cynic might have said the glow was something to do with the small bump under the forgiving folds of her empire-line wedding dress. I might have said it, but I was having a day off from cynicism. Even though I was allergic to public displays of affection, I let Rob hold my hand as Christine walked past us up the aisle. She beamed as she clung to her father's arm, taking her time about getting to the altar although the organist was thundering through "Here Comes the Bride" as if it was a race to the finish.
Leaning out, I could see Ben Dornton as he turned around to watch her walking toward him and the mixture of love, awe, and hope on his face jolted me out of my usual composure. Ben was a detective sergeant on my team. Balding and thin, he was not my idea of a romantic hero, even in a pearl-gray morning suit, but there was something unguarded and honest in his expression that brought tears to my eyes. I squeezed Rob's hand as I swallowed the lump in my throat and blinked furiously, afraid to rub my eyes in case I smudged my mascara. He didn't look at me but I could see the corners of his mouth twitching and knew why: a five-pound bet outside the church that I would cry before Christine made it to the altar.
Which reminded me about the other party to that particular bet. I leaned forward to see across the aisle, to the box pew where DI Josh Derwent was standing on his own, order of service in hand, glowering at me. He shook his head slowly, disgusted. He'd thought I could hang on until the vows before I wept. Not for the first time, I'd let him down.
And since I'd bet both of them I wouldn't cry at all, I'd let myself down too.
I didn't care. I shrugged at Derwent and went digging in my bag for a tissue. There were plenty of other people in the congregation who were sobbing happily too: most of Christine's family, including her father, and lots of my colleagues' girlfriends who were obviously imagining the day it would be their turn. The two bridesmaids, still pink from their walk to the altar, were dabbing at their eyes. And why not cry? It was a beautiful day, and Christine was a beautiful bride, and the two of them couldn't have been happier to be getting married. There was a baby on the way, it was true, but this wasn't a shotgun wedding. They had got engaged months before the bride got pregnant. Christine was a civilian analyst in our office, and liked to confide in me for no reason that I could see, so I had been party to the long, tearful discussions in the ladies' loo about whether it was better to postpone the wedding until after the baby had arrived or whether she should just get on with it. My vote had been firmly for getting on with it. There was a limit to how many times I could feign interest in swatches of material for bridesmaids' dresses or wedding favors or accent colors for decorating the chairs at the reception.
Besides, I was looking forward to the wedding. I had a dress I wanted to wear that would just about do for a September wedding. Midnight-blue, narrow, and strapless, it was a world away from my usual work clothes. Rob had booked time off from work so we could go together, and I'd never been to the part of Somerset where the bride's family lived. The wedding was in a tiny thirteenth-century church in the middle of a postcard-perfect village. The church was currently crammed with rather a lot of the Met's finest, but you could still admire the rood screen if that was your thing, and the carving on the pulpit, and the marble monuments to local worthies from centuries ago. Afterward the reception would be across the road, in a marquee in the garden of the bride's aunt's house. We were staying in one of the local pubs, where they had romantic rooms with low beams and wide, soft beds, and a roll-top bath by the window. I had booked to stay an extra night, so Rob and I could be alone together. In almost two years we'd never gone away anywhere on holidays. A trip to the country, even if it was just for the weekend, made a nice change.
The only problem was that I couldn't drink any of the French wine that Ben had traveled across the Channel to buy — cases and cases of it, since he knew his colleagues well enough to cater for a big night. Derwent had driven some of it down from London in his car, and Rob had gone to help him unload it while we hung around before the wedding.
"Not that there's much point since I won't be able to have any." Derwent dumped a box by the marquee and went back to get another one.
"Are you on call? So's Maeve." Rob was moving much more slowly than Derwent, not being in the least bothered about the inspector's compulsion to prove himself quicker and stronger than any other man. Tall and broad-shouldered, Rob looked extremely handsome in his best suit. As if he knew what I was thinking, he winked at me before he disappeared inside the marquee. I guessed he was going to put the case behind the bar, where it was needed, rather than leaving it outside. Derwent was on his third case by now, piling them up. I sat on the wall and watched the two of them, amused.
"It's typical." Derwent glared at me. "And I'll be watching you, Kerrigan. No sneaking a glass of fizz."
"Just to toast the happy couple."
He pointed at me. "Not a drop."
"I wouldn't," I protested. "I know the rules. Besides, the boss is going to be there. I wouldn't dare." The boss was Superintendent Charles Godley, one of the Met's stars, who was handsome and talented and expected the best from his team. We investigated murders. The most complex and sensitive ones came to us, which was flattering, but it meant that we couldn't shut down for the weekend. Everyone was invited to the wedding but some of us had to stay sober, ready to rush back to London if we were needed. Rob had been one of us, once upon a time. He knew the score. Given the choice, he would have been happy to be on call too, I felt.
But we wouldn't be needed. I closed my eyes and tilted my face up so the sunshine could warm it. The weather was perfect. Everything would be perfect.
Derwent nudged my foot with the toe of his shoe. "Wake up."
"I'm not asleep," I said, not opening my eyes. "Why are you bothering me?"
"There's no one else to talk to."
"Why didn't you bring a date? Couldn't you find anyone?"
"Of course I could have found someone. I wanted to come on my own."
"I have my reasons."
Something in his voice made me open my eyes. I shaded them with my hand so I could look at him. "Do I want to know what those reasons are?"
A grin. "Probably not."
"Tell me anyway."
"Maybe later." He looked past me and raised a hand. "There's Ben. Poor fucker. He looks as if he's going to spew."
"He's probably nervous."
"Nervous that Christine won't turn up. It's a good thing he got her pregnant. She's a long way out of his league."
"She's completely in love with him," I said, my voice sharp. "She'll be there because she wants to marry Dornton."
A slow headshake. "That was quality minge."
I shuddered. "Congratulations. That is absolutely the most offensive way you could have said you found Christine attractive."
"Do you reckon?" Derwent leaned back, hands in his pockets, thinking. "I bet I can come up with something more offensive than that."
"Please don't bother." I stood up.
"Aw. I was enjoying the view."
The grin again. "You should always wear skirts like that. With a slit, I mean."
I had forgotten about the slit. It ran up as far as my thigh, and when I sat down, most of my left leg was on display. I blushed, which was annoying. "Not exactly ideal for work."
"No. Not with stockings, anyway." The grin had got wider. "Lace tops, too. Nice."
"What are you two talking about?" Rob had finished moving the boxes from Derwent's car, as well as the ones Derwent had abandoned outside the marquee. Now he strolled across the grass to stand beside me. He slung an arm around my shoulders and pulled me toward him so he could drop a kiss on my cheek. I knew my face was hot.
"I was just saying what a lucky man you are," Derwent said smoothly.
"You won't get any arguments from me." Rob's arm tightened around me for just a second and I didn't duck away. Having him there was like emotional body armor, which I badly needed when Derwent was around.
I twisted to see the church, where there was a growing crowd centered on Dornton. "Let's go and talk to the others."
Derwent had come with us, but diluted by lots of other people he wasn't as bad. The conversation had been distinctly less personal, at least until Rob and he had started placing bets on whether I'd cry or not.
I looked across the aisle again, to where Derwent was sitting, somber in dark-gray. He looked more like he was at a funeral than a wedding, I thought. Coming into autumn he was at his leanest, with two marathons done for the year and another lined up before winter. His jawline was sharply cut, his cheeks slightly hollow, and to me he looked hungry, but possibly not for food. He was sitting quite still, his attention directed somewhere other than the couple standing at the front of the church, exchanging their vows with tremulous sincerity. I followed the line of his gaze to see where he was looking and I was not in the least surprised to find that he was staring at the prettier of the two bridesmaids. Nor was I all that surprised that she was staring back. He looked all right, from a distance. It was only when you got talking to him that you realized he was the last man on earth you should tangle with.
I just hoped she'd have the sense to run away.
* * *
It was after the dinner (excellent), the speeches (long), and the bride and groom's first dance (awkward but tender) that Derwent came for me. I was sitting beside Rob, my back to the rolled-up side of the marquee. I was enjoying myself in a mild way but I hadn't said much all evening. I was missing Liv, my friend and colleague, who was recovering from a nasty injury and had been off work for almost a year. She was traveling with her girlfriend, and had sent good wishes. I would have preferred to have her there. A light breeze from the garden sighed across my skin, but it was hot in the marquee and I didn't need or want my jacket. Rob had taken off his too, and his tie, and rolled up his sleeves. His hair was a little bit rumpled and I watched him laughing at one of Chris Pettifer's jokes, the lines lengthening around his eyes in a way that made my heart turn over. True to my word, I hadn't had a drop to drink but I felt not quite sober, all the same, when I looked at Rob. I wanted to lean against him and whisper in his ear. I wanted to tangle my fingers in his hair and kiss him. I wanted to press my body against him. I wanted to draw him into the dark garden and be alone with him. I settled for dropping a hand on his long, lean thigh, feeling the muscles move under my palm as he registered the contact and knew just what it meant.
Derwent's voice shattered my reverie. "Can I borrow your bird?"
"Depends," Rob said. "Why do you want her?"
"Just a dance."
I looked up at Derwent, unsmiling in his suit. He was as immaculate as he'd been eight hours earlier. So much for the party mood.
"I'm not dancing," I said.
"I hate dancing when I'm sober." It was true. I felt too self-conscious. I was too tall to be inconspicuous on a dance floor.
"I'll look after you." Derwent held out a hand to me. "Come on."
"Go on." Rob nudged me, as if I wanted his encouragement. "I don't mind."
"I do," I said.
"Don't be such a misery-guts," Derwent snapped. "Just come and dance with me. It won't take long."
Something in the way he said it made me suspicious. "Why? What's your game?"
He leaned down so he could lower his voice. The music was loud enough that he didn't really need to murmur. All the same, I could see the need for caution when he said, "I need you to make Beth jealous."
"Which one is Beth?"
"Does it matter?" Derwent demanded. Then he relented. "The fit one. Dark hair. Nice tits. Not the one who looks like an ironing board in a frock."
"Good choice," Rob said. "Good luck, mate."
"No luck required. Just Kerrigan."
I was glaring at Rob, who had given no sign of even noticing the bridesmaids, let alone of having assessed their chests.
"What?" he said, blinking at me, all innocence.
"Nothing." I looked up at Derwent who tilted his head to one side.
I really wanted to say no. I'd felt sorry for Derwent earlier, though, coming to the wedding on his own. He looked lonely. I was pretty sure he was lonely. And I was so completely happy with Rob I couldn't take away his chance to feel the same way.
"Go on, Maeve," Rob said. "Have fun."
I stood up and it took Rob a second to follow my face all the way up. He squinted slightly as he tried to focus and I wondered just exactly how drunk he was. To Derwent, I said, "One dance. But I want you to know I don't approve of you playing mind games with the poor girl. If you like her, just tell her that."
"Yeah, because that always works." Derwent rolled his eyes.
I opened my mouth to reply and stopped, as Rob's hand slid inside the slit in my skirt and ran up the back of my leg. When he slipped his fingers between my legs so he could stroke the soft skin at the top of my thigh, I thought, Oh. That drunk.
I looked up and saw Derwent grinning at me. He knew exactly what Rob was doing, I realized, and I stepped away from my boyfriend so I was out of range.
"Do I have your permission to do what I like with her?" Derwent asked Rob.
"You have my permission to try. But don't blame me if she hurts you."
"Can you stop talking to Rob as if he owns me?" I grabbed Derwent's arm and marched him toward the dance floor, where the band was halfway through "That's Amore."
"When I'm dancing with someone who's taken, I like to get everything agreed in advance so I don't get thumped. He's a big lad, your bloke."
"So are you."
"I still wouldn't want to fight him."
"Well, I wouldn't want to ruin Ben and Christine's wedding with a brawl, so behave yourself."
Derwent shook his head. "That's not going to work."
He took hold of me and took charge, spinning me around so I was breathless and laughing after a couple of minutes. It turned out that Derwent was surprisingly good at dancing, despite the slight limp he'd acquired a few months earlier when he was injured in the line of duty. I was almost disappointed when the song ended. He stood beside me, though, and made no move toward the edge of the dance floor.
"They look happy," I said, watching Ben and Christine kiss in the middle of the dance floor as people applauded them.
"It'll be you next."
"Not next," I said. "But maybe someday." I looked across at Rob, who was watching us, a half-smile on his face. His eyes were still slightly unfocused but I had the feeling he was paying more attention than a casual onlooker might have thought.
"That's commitment," Derwent said.
"It is for me."
"I wasn't taking the piss. He's lucky."
"Oh." I was wrong-footed and, for once, speechless.
"How's the self-esteem today, Kerrigan?"
That was more like Derwent. I glowered. "Fine. I'm not used to you being nice, that's all."
"Saying it as I see it, that's all. Nothing nice about it." He waited a beat. "You're lucky too, though. He puts up with you which is more than ninety-nine point nine percent of men would bother to do."
Ugh. "If you want to find a girlfriend, do you really think the best way is by dancing with me?"
He pulled me toward him. "I'm not looking for a girlfriend tonight, Kerrigan. I'm looking for a shag. Weddings are all about shagging. And making Beth jealous is the last thing I need to do to tip her over the edge."
"You old romantic."
"I am romantic. I love weddings." The band played the first few chords of "Can't Help Falling in Love with You." The singer was no Elvis but he gave it his best shot, crooning into his microphone with his eyes closed. Derwent pulled me so close to him the buttons on his jacket dug into my stomach. "I've got a system. Scope out the talent during the ceremony. Choose your target. Make contact with her before the meal. Watch her during the meal, so you can see if she's eating." He leaned even closer so his lips were almost brushing my ear. "Desire kills all other appetites. If she's eating, forget it. If she can't eat, you're in."
Excerpted from The Kill by Jane Casey. Copyright © 2014 Jane Casey. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love this series, characters who are all too human, amazing writer
I received a copy of this book from the Dead Good Crime Book Group on Goodreads and I want to thank them, once again, for introducing me to another new author that I may never have found. I haven't read any of the preceding books in this series so started reading with no background or information on any of the characters at all. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to have that knowledge as I did find myself wondering where some of the characters were coming from. Having said that though, I thought it was well written with engaging and complex characters. The storyline was great, delivered with good pace and with interesting twists. I like the relationships between the various characters and despite Derwent being a chauvinistic pig, he was the cause of an internal battle I had with myself - one minute I liked him, the next he was a total [insert appropriate swear word]. Derwent was also the one who made me laugh out loud by his ludicrous statements and the situation he found himself in towards the end of the book. Overall, a good read but one that would probably have been much better had I read previous books in the series.