- 20 Apr 20
Murder, She Wrote
The Cutting Place is the ninth book – and there have been a few short stories too - in Dublin-born, London-based Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series, with the heroine now now sporting the rank of Detective Sergeant. This time around a hand washes up out of the Thames, which turns out to belong to journalist Paige Hargreaves. She had been investigating the goings on in the Chiron Club, a private members boys' den for the very rich where some seriously seedy behaviour takes place. The club inspires intense loyalty from its members thanks to blackmail, and in a series of flashbacks we’re told of another dead body, this time in a swimming pool near the village of Standen Fitzallen, although the character doing the remembering can't remember much.
Kerrigan, a properly rounded character, and that rare thing in crime fiction, a detective without any major personality problems, investigates what turns out to be a complicated case. They eye of suspicion falls on well-off young lads Roddy, Orlando and Luke, and the water gets further muddied when it turns out that a suspect has a personal relationship with one of Kerrigan’s team. The members and staff of the club are proper boo & hiss villains, especially head heavy Carl Hooper and the odious club boss Sir Marcus Gley, and the more that is revealed about what goes on behind their closed doors – young women and men being compensated once they allow themselves to be taken advantage off – the more the reader longs for their comeuppance.
A secondary plot involves Kerrigan’s boyfriend, Seth Taylor, who seems like a bad one from the off, hated as he is by police colleague Josh Derwent - a likeable braggart with the requisite bit of darkness thrown in - who would appear to have a thing for Maeve. This sub-plot explodes in a disturbing way, and is skilfully handled by Casey, who avoids both sentimentality and sensationalism.
Despite one rather coincidental occurrence, there are enough twists and red herrings to keep you going until the end and the documentation of police and court procedures would seem to be as accurate as it is engrossing. One could point to the fact that Casey is married to a criminal barrister but the credit for the riveting storytelling is hers alone.
I’ll admit that I’m new to this series but this well-plotted and paced case should have me seeking out more of Kerrigan’s adventures in the future. If movie and TV companies aren’t on the phone to Casey already, they certainly should be.