A serial killer is loose in London, brutally beating his female victims to death before setting their bodies on fire and leaving them in public parks. Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable on the investigation task force who is determined to do everything she can to bring the killer to justice, whatever the consequences in her personal life.
So far, so typical crime fiction, but what really sets this above its neighbours in the genre is Casey’s intelligent, detail-driven writing that isn’t just content to let the plot do the work of keeping the reader’s interest. There is an in-depth look at the investigation into the 5th death attributed to ‘The Burning Man’, the predictable name given to the killer by the tabloids. Told in the first person, the chapters alternate between the point of view of Maeve, and that of the victim’s best friend, Louise. Both characters are richly portrayed; Maeve is likable, realistic and admirable in her commitment and drive; Louise is intriguing and guarded, slowly revealing more aspects of her character as the book progresses. Supporting characters are vivid and add even more depth to the story, with Casey managing to avoid the usual police officer stereotypes.
Though dealing with a serious subject matter, there are a few smartly funny moments in the book that made me laugh out loud, eg.
As I walked down the street, I tried to analyse why I had disliked him so much. Something about him was unsettling. Something had made me edgy. I thought he was a smug manipulative creep, for all his good looks. But being a creep wasn’t an arrestable offence.
On the bright side, it was a life sentence.
The Burning is Casey’s series debut, with Maeve Kerrigan returning in The Reckoning, a book I ordered as soon as I put the current one down, and I already can’t wait to read it. I feel invested in the character, like a new friend you click with immediately and can’t wait to spend more time with. I hope it is as good as I believe it will be. Look out for my review in the next few weeks!
The Literary Owl Rating: 4.5/5
Read with: Some tasty, crunchy, raw vegetables with hummus. (Definitely nothing smoked or barbecued!)