Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan thrillers are an addictive pursuit, Kerrigan's brief with London's Marine Pacific Unit regularly partners the Detective Sergeant's sharp investigative instincts with the acerbic observations of Detective Investigator Josh Derwent, their impressive solve-record benefiting from a unique partnership. The exploration of the Kerrigan-Derwent relationship is a vital part of the series' dynamic, a blend of the personal and the professional. The bottom line: each can trust the other implicitly.
The discovery of partial human remains washed up on the banks of the Thames leaves the duo with a conundrum: locating more parts of the victim and establishing an identity to pursue the killer. When Josh is sent on another case by Detective Chief Inspector Una Burt, Kerrigan takes the lead, somewhat hampered by naive Detective Constable Georgia Shaw. The unfortunate soul drifting ashore in pieces is luckily identified by DNA as journalist Paige Hargreaves. Paige was writing an expose of the prestigious Chiron Club, an exclusive group of wealthy men meeting regularly for private revelry. Learning of a young woman's disappearance after a night at the Chiron Club, the journalist's intrusive questions lead to her horrifying fate and the beginning of an investigation.
With her usual tenacity, Kerrigan unravels the journalist's recent activities and parties of interest. She draws closer to identifying both perpetrators and a shocking history of sexual abuse, where wealth is the key to outrageous activities and, sometimes, casual murder in the pursuit of pleasure. Though Maeve has an immediate negative reaction to Paige's landlord, she puts her on the back burner to pursue the most obvious culprits and reveal the secrets locked behind the all-male establishment of the rich and powerful. Eventually Maeve will find her way into the Club's inner sanctum, but not before gathering incriminating evidence on a number of young men being groomed for eventual stewardship of the Chiron Club.
Despite Derwent's absence from Maeve's case, the two investigators keep in touch. Each is currently settled into a relationship, although Josh is deeply suspicious of Maeve's handsome, successful boyfriend, Seth Taylor. Though she hasn't admitted it, Maeve does feel stifled by Seth's effusive generosity and efforts to please, juggling work and private life, albeit not particularly well. Josh suspects Seth and Seth resents Josh, Maeve treading a dangerous minefield in the midst of a harrowing investigation.
While the savage dismemberment of a victim and the deviant criminality of an exclusive club are the crux of the thriller, the addition of personal challenges for both Kerrigan and Derwent add an extra layer to the evolving drama. There are the usual page-turning scenes as the killers are run to ground, not to mention the bonus of a high-level arrest, but it is the personal developments that portend a resolution to a complicated relationship. The Cutting Place is a potent blend, Casey building tension at every level, a tower of blocks in danger of toppling.