(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan is used to being ridiculed by her mostly male colleagues. They mock her gender, her looks, her Irish heritage, her "womanly" empathy, her work habits—everything. Although the 28-year-old lets it roll off her back, she's still eager to prove she's a valuable member of the London murder squad, that she's there on her own merit and not because she's sleeping with the boss (a rampant, untrue rumor). She longs to be part of the hunt for a vicious serial killer called The Burning Man. Solving the case would earn her much-needed bragging rights. Not to mention bring a murderer to justice.
When a new victim is found, Maeve and her colleagues are puzzled. The murder seems to be the work of The Burning Man, but the M.O. doesn't quite fit. Are they looking for the same killer or a copycat? Assigned to look into the private life of the dead woman, Maeve makes some startling revelations that lead to more mystifying questions. Who was Rebecca Haworth? What led to her brutal death? With few solid clues, it's difficult to find answers. The more Maeve learns about Rebecca, though, the more determined she is to find the woman's killer. Even if it means putting her own life on the line. Which it inevitably will.
The Burning, the first book in the Maeve Kerrigan series by Irish crime writer Jane Casey, is a tense, fast-paced thriller. While the mystery at its center is certainly compelling, it's the characters that really come first here. Maeve is tough, but caring and devoted. Eternally likable, she's also flawed, which makes her feel very real. Louise North, who is Rebecca's best friend and a dual narrator with Maeve, is likewise intriguing. While I would consider The Burning a character-driven novel, the plot definitely moves along at a clip. The story isn't quite as twisty as I wanted it to be, but it definitely kept me riveted. A few chapters in, I found myself reserving the next two books in the series. That's how much I liked The Burning, especially its understated but unforgettable heroine. I've learned since that Casey just knows how to pull me in—once I start one of her books, I (almost literally) can't stop reading. Fair warning.
(Readalikes: Books by Sharon Bolton and Tana French; also other novels in the Maeve Kerrigan series, including The Reckoning; The Last Girl; The Stranger You Know; The Kill; After the Fire; and Let the Dead Speak)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for strong language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, depictions of illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter
To the FTC, with love: Another library