24 November 2011

Review: THE BURNING, Jane Casey

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 629 KB
  • Print Length: 498 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0091936004
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (November 11, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049U48F0
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

A serial killer who wants to watch you burn…
The media call him The Burning Man, a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death, before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London’s parks. And now the fifth victim has been found…

Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve’s empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice.

But how do you catch a killer no one has seen? And when so much of the evidence they leave behind has gone up in smoke?

My Take

There are a number of things to talk about with THE BURNING.
First of all, it is Jane Casey's second novel in a series, and I'm regretful that I haven't read the first, although I wasn't aware of it being #2 while I was reading. [The first is titled THE MISSING]

DC Maeve Kerrigan is an interesting character whose position in the murder squad raises some issues related to the promotion of women into coveted positions.
    'You’re Irish too, aren’t you? Paddies always get on.' 
    'Great,' I said bleakly. My name was the giveaway – that and my wild hair, typically Irish, I’d been told. From the first day I walked through the door at Hendon, I’d been called Spud, or had to listen to jokes about how stupid the Irish were, or even fucking Riverdance, for God’s sake. It was all too petty to make a formal complaint, but it bothered me. I’d grown up in England – I had an English accent – but I still didn’t fit in and they made sure I knew it. I had been more than happy to live up to the reputation for having a fiery temper, but it got me in trouble and I was trying to keep it under control, so on this occasion I said nothing else.
Her male colleagues have their own opinion about her worth to the squad.
    'Turns out a pretty face will only take you so far,' the other one commented. 'What’s that supposed to mean?' 'Nothing. Just that it’s harder for some people to get on to murder squads than it is for others.'
And she gets plenty of reminders that she is female:
    After five years in the job, I had enough material for twenty sexual harassment cases if I had wanted to take them, but the constant innuendo never really bothered me.
We get an insight into the competitive nature of being a  member of the murder squad. Superintendent Godley, nicknamed 'God', is constantly pressing for results, and doesn't tolerate mistakes. Maeve is the only woman in the murder squad and she feels that she is constantly under scrutiny. Others are not backward in climbing the ladder at their colleague's expense.

The story of THE BURNING is told from a number of points of view. This technique means we often see an event from different angles. It also means that one of the narrators is unreliable and even reliable narrations are tinged with personal opinions.

I wouldn't yet put THE BURNING into the top drawer of police procedurals but Jane Casey is certainly an Irish author worth following.

My rating: 4.3

Other reviews to check:


Maxine Clarke said...

Nice review, Kerrie. I think I was a tad more enthusiastic than you about this one.
You haven't missed an earlier book - this one is the first in the series. The Missing (her debut novel) is not about these characters.
There is now a follow-up to The Burning called The Reckoning which I reviewed for Euro Crime fairly recently, but it isn't as good as The Burning in my view. (Nor is The Missing, which is good apart from the ending.)

Susan said...

My ex had to bring this back from England for me late this summer since it's not out in softcover here in Canada yet. I enjoyed your review, Kerrie, and am curious to read it now (I haven't read it yet) to see if I agree with your assessment or not. It's getting good reviews in general over here. I like your commentators points too.


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