Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on The Kill.
Writing with energy, flair and portraying her police heroes through sharp and witty dialogue, Casey propels what is essentially a police procedural into a rumination on police corruption. Narrated in the first-person voice of DC Maeve Kerrigan, Casey highlights the inherent pressures of a murder investigation, and the entrenched misogyny that still exists in Londonís Metropolitan Police, a force that remains dominated by men. From Kerriganís boss, handsome Charles Godley, to petulant DI Josh Derwent and the other detectives on the squad who seem to resent Maeve at every turn, we see how Maeve is inadvertently hijacked by her own accomplishments as a career detective.
The wedding of a co-worker in a tiny
13th-century church in the middle of a postcard-perfect Suffolk village is crammed with most of the Metís finest,
but the horrific murder of policeman Terrance Hammond calls the team back to London in middle of the night. Although Hammondís brutal shooting in his car in Richmond Park is tragic in its own right, the deeper issue is the camaraderie between the three detectives--Maeve, Josh and Charles--a relationship that becomes strained under the weight of institutional arrogance, racism, and the public perception that the police are out of touch with the communities it is supposed to serve. The blame has been placed squarely at the Metís door, almost as if Hammond were a legitimate target.
At first Hammondís body and the crime itself offer few clues, except that the gunshot wounds to the head and chest signify that he was probably caught in an uncompromising position with someone,
whether a man or a woman. But who would shoot a man on his way home from work who was perhaps having sex in a public park? Was he was killed because of something he did or because of what he was? Godley orders Kerrigan and Derwent to find out any gossip, especially whether Hammond was sleeping with someone other than his wife.
Breaking the news to Julie Hammond and her daughter, Vanessa generates few clues; Julie reeks of insouciance and stubbornness, brisk rather than angry and matter-of-fact rather than upset. Vanessa seems unable to cope, the blood draining from her face when she learns of her fatherís brutal death. The crime is evidently a homicide, requiring the tedious legwork of tracking down various gun clubs throughout greater London as well as re-interviewing Vanessa and her student councilor in order to try to understand Terranceís world. Of particular interest are his movements on the days leading up to his murder, the trail leading the team to surmise that Hammond was a bad husband and father and a so-so cop.
Casey contrasts the slow investigation with the differing personalities of Maeve and Josh. Josh is not as tough as he first presents himself. He worships Godley with a blind, unswerving loyalty
which Godley earned when they worked together years before. For her part, Maeve is faced with a tough nemesis in Godley as he ushers in a flurry of recriminations when he catches her reading his text messages. At first, Godley sees promise in rough-edged Maeve as does Josh, who secretly admires her enthusiasm and curiosity. Teaming Josh and Maeve together is not without its problems: Maeve is used to the usual friction and Joshís off-color, crude remarks, but she is unprepared for the rift
that arises between them. Josh is impetuous smart-mouthed, too eager to go off on his own tangent and also impatient that Maeve wonít confide in him their bossĎs secrets.
When another tragic police shooting occurs, this time at the working-class housing complex of Maudlin Estate, it soon becomes clear that someone is lashing out at the police. The crime, involving the death of a number of officers, is even more bloody and chaotic than Hammondís murder. From the suspects to the suspicious public to the police who are being targeted, an intricate balance is required until the case is solved. The inhabitants of the Maudlin Estate
have been provoked by heavy-handed patrols, and clearly thereís resentment. Josh and Maeve donít know why those officers were targeted; Maeve at first thinks the answer is on the estate, someone outside who is setting them up.
The murders continue, and the authorities at the Metís highest level race to find what is rapidly shaping up to be two killers. From the exclusive London gun clubs to an affable constable who once worked with Hammond, to the Maudlin Estates and a group of young thugs out for blood, to the relentless press core who demand to know the latest developments, Josh and Maeve are tested by the delicate filaments of intuition that lead them from one suspect to another, and to the long-held animosities that perhaps hold the pivotal clue to solving the case. Before the novel ends, Maeve will have to come to grips with her relationship with her boyfriend, Rob, although the answers she seeks will put her in unexpected danger. Josh, meanwhile, is a fairly typical macho archetype: a hard-edged, gutsy cop right on the edge of reason. As Josh fights to keep his career in check, Casey imbues him with just the right mix of integrity and volatility.
The Kill is a puzzling, intricate murder thriller whose solution packs a horrific double-punch. Readers will find themselves turning page after page of this compelling and addictive novel to learn so much more about the mystery and its characters. And thereís good news for Casey fans: the open-ended finish to the book suggests another great story is yet to come.