Tag Archives: Jane Casey

The Burning – Jane Casey

You can enjoy a crime novel at any time of the year, however in the autumn and winter with the long drawn nights it seems an even more ideal time to pick one up – I am currently mulling over just which one to read next. Whilst I decide I thought I would tell you about the first in a new-to-me series, The Burning, by a new-to-me author, Jane Casey. As many long term readers of the blog will know I do like a good crime series though I am always rather trepidatious about starting a new one; partly because the ones I read are so good and partly because when you sign up to a series you know you are signing up to something long haul and even if you don’t like it you will probably want to read the next one despite yourself to see what happens next.

Ebury Press, 2010, paperback, crime fiction, 486 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

London is in terror of a serial killer that the media have named The Burning Man after he has beaten and burnt four women to death in secluded parks throughout the city. A fifth victim, Rebecca Haworth, has been discovered and yet there seems to be something different in the minutiae of her killing. Either The Burning Man has changed the way he is dealing with his victims ever so slightly, or there is a copy cat killer who could possibly be about to start a spate of murders or just wanted to kill and have someone else take the blame. Whatever the outcome it is up to Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan to find out more yet the more she learns about this supposed fifth victim the more and more confused she is, as Rebecca Haworth was a bit of an enigma, seemingly perfect but do still waters run deep?

He nodded, then strutted away, trying and failing to look like a taller man than he was. Anton Ventnor, prize git. I would have dreaded going in to an office he ran; I would have been delighted to get away from him if I’d been in Rebecca’s shoes. But I wasn’t Rebecca; I didn’t even really know what she was like. The highly organised business-woman. The good-time girl you’d never marry. The loyal, scatty friend. The desperate employee. I had no doubt I would get a different account of Rebecca’s character from her parents, when I spoke to them. She had been whatever people wanted her to be, right up to the moment when what they wanted her to be was dead.

I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Burning before I read it, lots of people had told me that it would be my kind of crime novel and I think that might be because Casey does a very good job of mixing the police procedural with a psychological thriller – these are not the same things as I have discovered over my reading of the genre. DC Kerrigan is a woman in a very masculine world, in fact she is one of only a few females on her team as we have the hunt for The Burning Man there is much crime scene investigation, clues and dead ends to be lead down.

At the same time we know there is more to the book than meets the eye as from early on we switch narratives from Maeve as she gets on with the procedural side of catching a killer and also Louise, Rebecca Howarth’s best friend. The story divides slightly into two strands and even takes another twist as we learn of a death in Rebecca’s Oxford past and so in a way we soon find we are following three different cases all in one book. With the two different narratives we think we are learning more than DC Kerrigan, but are we really? This is a clever trick if you can pull it off but a very hard web to weave.

Overall Casey does this really well. I have to admit that when the book started to head off to Oxford and Rebecca and Louise’s student days I did inwardly groan as firstly, I don’t really like campus novels, and secondly I was rather grimly fascinated by The Burning Man and it does seem that for a hundred or so pages so does DC Kerrigan almost informing us of the fact there are multiple murderers out there instead of leaving us guessing until the last possible moment. A small quibble though really as when The Burning Man case reaches its denouement it really paces along and grips, yet you know there is more to come, double the detecting. I also think Casey could have quite easily cut a hundred pages. I didn’t need the switch of narrative to one of Casey’s colleagues, Rob, for example as we could have gained the information in a paragraph or two in a different way and sometimes the dual narratives meant repetitions though of course the whole point is what is missing or what is concealed by one party or not which I liked hunting for.

DC Kerrigan herself is a great lead. I liked her struggle to be one of the boys whilst having to compete so strongly to be seen and heard which I bet is the case within the police system. I also enjoyed her hunt for the killer or killers and can safely say that Casey is very good at creating serial killers who have very different motives from the one you might think, particularly in the case of The Burning Man who once unmasked I found incredibly chilling indeed.

I would also like to think, and if this is true I hope Jane Casey sees this and let me know, that this might be a kind of homage of sorts to Du Maurier’s Rebecca. They don’t have the same story line by any means but throughout the novel there is a woman, with the name Rebecca obviously, who is quite clearly alive for many of the characters despite her death, yet she is also a complete enigma. If so I am of course thrilled, if not I am clearly far too obsessed with that book.

After reading The Burning will I be returning to follow DC Kerrigan on another case? Yes. Jane Casey clearly wants to wrong foot her readers, in a nice way not in a smug clever clogs way, and if this novel is anything to go by she not only has a huge scope which she wishes to encapsulate in her tales, with various tangents and strands of investigation. She also likes to lead you into a false sense of security when you know who the killer is. I guessed who the murderer might be from quite early on, yet I was often thrown into doubt until the moment Casey wanted all to be revealed, yet even then she cleverly throws a twist or two in for good measure keeping you going after the big reveal.

Who else has read any of Jane Casey’s crime series, or indeed The Missing, the standalone novel? What did you make of them and do I have many more thrills and spills ahead of me? Which are your favourite crime novels that I should consider as I debate my next murderous fictional fix?

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Filed under Ebury Press, Jane Casey, Review

June’s Incomings…

Yes yet another month has flown by and it’s that time when I ask for you thoughts on the books that have come through the letterbox, or snuck in hidden in my bag etc. I was thinking that it wasn’t such a bumper month and then remembered that I had been sent the TV book club titles (I’ve had to give up on ‘Moonlight Mile’ it’s just not me) then there are the Penguins I rescued and the Daphne Du Maurier discovery, oops.

So what paperbacks have come through the door?

  • My Michael by Amos Oz – unsolicited copy, but one that I am glad has arrived as I haven’t read any Amos Oz and would like to (I seem to have lots of his books) has anyone any recommendations on Oz?
  • The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago – another unsolicited copy of an author I really should read, any tips with Saramago?
  • Charles Jessold Considered a Murderer by Wesley Stace – an unsolicited copy of a book that looks right up my street with its gothic murderous tones. I once started Stace’s ‘Misfortune’ and really liked it but left it on a train, got another copy but haven’t picked it up again, I must.
  • Butterfly’s Shadow by Lee Langley – unsolicited copy
  • Nimrod’s Shadow by Chris Paling – after reading ‘The Proof of Love’ by Catherine Hall and loving it so much I have been hankering after more of the ‘Fiction Uncovered’ titles. This is one.
  • Conditions of Faith by Alex Miller – this will learn me the publishers emailed me very nicely about this book, I said yes… thinking it was another book. I thought it was ‘Pure’ by Andrew Miller, oops. Never mind though, I will enjoy it none the less, well I hope I will.
  • The Reckoning by Jane Casey – unsolicited copy, and the second in the series, how annoying as it looks really good, but I like to start at the beginning.
  • The Empty Family by Colm Toibin – I am in the mood for short stories and I love Toibin so this will be read soon, also a GCP submission.
  • Days of Grace by Catherine Hall – Thrilled this has come, it seems Catherine’s publisher, editor and Catherine herself really liked how much I loved ‘The Proof of Love’ (am I stuck record about this book yet) and so her now debut novel has arrived.
  • The Skating Rink by Robert Bolano – another unsolicited copy of an author I really should read, any tips with Bolano?
  • Some Hope/Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn – I asked you all if I should read him, and his publishers spotted this and so sent me all of the books you can see ‘At Last’ below. Very excited about this series, have been dipping into ‘Some Hope’ and its proving emotional and incredible.
  • Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay – I haven’t read any Jackie Kay but have always wanted to, also a GCP submission.
  • The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugall – This arrived and with it came guilt because I know so many people who have told me to read ‘The Woman Before Me’ and I have it and still haven’t… I will though.

Next up is those hardback and trade paperbacks lots of which I am very, very excited about…

  • The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I liked his last young adult book ‘The Shadow in the Mist’ for its creepiness, I am hoping this one has the same feel to it. Ooh, I still havent read ‘The Angels Game’, what am I playing at?
  • The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb – interesting title and stunning cover, I think this is one of the books I am going to be reading next as it seems to have been ‘under the radar’ and I am after more books like that. Plus it’s another GCP submission.
  • Night Waking by Sarah Moss – I have already read this one; it’s another ‘Fiction Uncovered’ title and its one that will be getting lots of praise in due course. Its still got me thinking hence no sooner review.
  • The London Satyr by Robert Edric – I didn’t get on with ‘Salvage’ but this novel based in the Victorian underbelly, well that’s the gist I have got, sounds right up my street and is again part of ‘Fiction Uncovered’.
  • Rory’s Boys by Alan Clark – this comes almost screaming its praise from Sue Townsend, a GCP submission.
  • At Last by Edward St Aubyn – the whole series arrived, see above
  • Five Bells by Gail Jones – I saw Kimbofo’s review of this and so had to get my mitts on a copy. It sounds very much like my sort of book.
  • By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham – this will be my first Cunningham read and I am very much looking forward to it.
  • History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason – another book I know little about, though I think the authors debut was one everyone was talking about, a GCP submission.
  • Gypsy Boy on the Run by Mikey Walsh – unsolicited copy which I don’t know why the publishers sent me, as Hodder generally don’t, maybe it’s because it’s a novel about a gay man? Who knows.
  • Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob Smith – I read Bob Smith’s column/essay collection years ago so am thrilled this arrived, it’s a GCP submission.
  • Fold by Tom Campbell – unsolicited proof, I am going to look into this one a little more as initially its not sounding like my sort of thing.
  • All The Time in the World by E. L. Doctorow – I loved ‘Homer and Langley’ so much when I read it that I am really looking forward to this novel about a stranger coming into someone’s family and relationships and changing everything.
  • The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block – I still haven’t read his debut novel, I saw how much Rachel Booksnob loved this book and so was thrilled when it arrived.
  • The Watchers by Jon Steele – I asked for this one as I am was in the mood for trying something different, I am looking forward to this one a lot as it sounds a bit apocalyptic and supernatural and rather page turning, perfect summer read.
  • The Somnambulist by Essie Fox – set in the Victorian era and rather spooky sounding, how could I not want to read this?
  • Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante – I am wondering if Alice is any relation of Linda? This sounds like it’s a gripping and rather emotionally packed crime, I am loving crime fiction this year so this is an unsolicited copy I am looking forward to.
  • The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan – Thanks to @Foyles who mentioned to S&S the publishers that I really liked Hogan’s debut ‘Blackmoor’ (reading that review shows how much my attitude to blogging has changed, ha) and Hogan is a fellow lad from Derbyshire so that adds to it.
  • Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman – This has caused some controversy I believe as a book a s a tribute to the authors dead wife, can’t seem to find much more out about it than that, has anyone else heard the furore about this?
  • Ashes by Sergios Gakas – now this will be a first, a crime/thriller by a Greek author. A book I will therefore have to give to my Greece-obsessed mother once I have finished it, not sure how she will react to all the cocaine binges that it has in store though.

Blimey typing all those books up actually makes me realise that there were a lot more than I realised, if that wasn’t enough I also received some gifts from friends and then went and bought myself some treats.

  • Read This Next… And Discover 500 New Favourite Books by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark – I saw this on Chasing Bawa, she has now reviewed it, and thought it sounded right up my street, so what a surprise when it arrived in the post as a gift from the lovely Sakura herself.
  • The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley/BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara – Kimbofo sent me both of these as she knows I live on a Claremont related road and also I work in the publishing industry, plus I loved the sound of it from her review. She also sent me the Riverside Readers last read, it sounded amazing and I was gutted that I missed out on it (I miss that book group so much – I am wondering if they would let me join in virtually?) and now I can give it a whirl.
  • The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor – I have wanted this forever and found it for a whopping 50p in Cambridge, Susan Hill raves about this book which makes me want to read it even more, I think it might be out of print now.
  • Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen – Kimbofo has a lot to answer for actually, her review of this crime thriller made me subconsciously pop it in my trolley at the supermarket. It wasn’t my fault honest… and I know, I know supermarket book buying is sent from the devil.
  • Fidelity by Susan Glaspell – I found this Persephone classic in a new very well hidden local charity shop for a whopping 30p, I know a Persephone for 30p. No idea if it’s good or not, but that didn’t matter at the time… it was 30p!

There that’s my loot this month, what lovely stuff have you had of late? Which of the above have you read and loved? Which would you like to see me reading next?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Fiction Uncovered