Book Review: The Cutting Place by Jane Casey

Harper Collins €16.99

Some dismembered parts of a woman’s body are found floating in the Thames and it’s Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan’s job to find out who they belong to, and why the victim was murdered and then chopped into little pieces. Turns out the victim is a young and ambitious freelance journalist who had been investigating the Chiron Club, an exclusive London men’s club which holds Jeffrey Epstein-type parties – you know the kind, those parties fit for princes and presidents – and retains members’ loyalty by secretly filming their shameful shenanigans and then blackmailing them. This charming old boys’ society is virtually impossible to penetrate, but Kerrigan is like a dog with a bone. She eventually finds three young men in a house-share that know more than they pretend. Problem is, one of the young men is connected with her working partner, Josh Derwent, although Derwent is blissfully unaware. How to proceed and do so delicately is just one of Maeve’s problems.

But she has other problems, too, one of which is her new boyfriend. He’s a wealthy lawyer in the city, handsome and fun and maybe a little jealous but nothing that Maeve can’t handle. Until she’s forced into handling it. This subplot was really intriguing. The twists and turns and red herrings and lying witnesses in the Chiron case multiply by the day, but then this is classic Kerrigan and indeed classic Casey, who has nothing to prove by now. Her crime fiction is world-class. But it’s the disintegration of Maeve’s personal life that really got this reader’s attention. There is an alarming incident which Kerrigan brushes off, determined not to see where it’s leading, and the price she pays for not acting sooner is horrendous. To say any more would be to spoil, but Casey has really done her homework here in depicting Maeve’s initial reaction. It’s the way almost every woman reacts in similar circumstances, until the circumstances themselves spiral out of control.  

Another reviewer of this novel said that if film and TV producers were not already beating a path to Casey’s door, then they should be. I agree. Tight, clever, writing, with complex plots that you simply can’t guess at, whole characters with flaws an’ all and an underlying compassion on the part of the author make all of the Kerrigan novels so much more than police procedurals. But as police procedurals go, they’re among the best.

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