Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on The Kill.
Casey continues to challenge London DC Maeve Kerrigan, but in The Kill, a complicated criminal investigation is made more difficult by the personal problems that plague a detective still staking her claim in an elite squad dominated by men. Kerrigan’s perpetual nemesis (and mentor), DCI Josh Derwent, continues to dominate Maeve’s investigations, his rudeness and acerbic remarks meant to groom her as a more efficient--and less emotional--detective. However much a challenge for her, Derwent is such a skilled detective that she endures his less attractive characteristics, seemingly oblivious to the growing sexual tension between them (that may or may not evolve).
The novel begins at a wedding celebration. Kerrigan grows uncomfortable dancing with an aggressive Derwent, acutely sensitive to his touch, worried that others will notice--including Rob, her longtime partner. Superintendent Charles Godley, Maeve’s boss, is present, temporarily in a good mood
despite recent separation from his wife. Maeve’s relationship with her superior (begun in prior novels) has created an impossible dilemma: she has information about Godley that she’s kept to herself, of critical import as the plot evolves. Casey wastes no time in rolling out the action, interrupting the festivities with news of the murder of a fellow officer. Culling his team from the inebriated wedding guests, Godley organizes a caravan to the scene, Kerrigan’s plans for a romantic weekend with Rob abruptly canceled. The investigation consumes the detectives from that point on, everything else pushed to the background as they converge on the murder site.
A disturbing pattern begins to emerge, begun by the recent incident of a policeman run down by a motorist. Now this murder suggests a more serious possibility: police as targets for retribution. The search for the officer’s killer is sidelined by yet another incident, the shooting of five officers patrolling a local housing estate. His team consumed by the myriad details of the ongoing investigations, Godley succumbs to a black mood that affects everyone in the unit, though Kerrigan has no time to worry about him. In yet another blow, a young police trainee is brutally slain in a vacant house; now there is no question the police are under siege. Godley remains withdrawn, unreachable, Derwent chronically furious, and Kerrigan trying to navigate this treacherous territory them when yet another ambush occurs--this time an attack directed at Rob’s squad.
This kind of mayhem is classic Casey, overlapping cases with many layers and diverse players, Kerrigan torn between the pursuit of the killers and her frustration with the perfectionist DCI, concerned about Godley and too exhausted to attend to her Rob or
to find the words to help him through the crisis he faces after the attack on his team. Sometimes blinded to consequences by her investigative intuition, Kerrigan takes risks.
This particular series of murders is filled with pitfalls both emotional and professional. It is these complications that Casey mines in her characters, humanizing them with weighty decisions and personal failings. As Godfrey unravels under the stress of the killings and Vice-Superintendent Una Burton temporarily takes over the squad
with her eye on removing Derwent, Kerrigan juggles private heartbreak and professional instincts, more comfortable as a detective than dealing with the nuances of personal relationships: “As a rule I have murder on my mind. That day I had it in my heart.” The investigation comes to an end in a flurry of violent confrontations, but Kerrigan’s current ordeal by fire isn’t over yet.
The author delivers a twist that will surely test her protagonist’s mettle in the next thriller of the series, the bait already on the hook.