Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 18 April 2019
Leo Stone is a ruthless killer – or the victim of a miscarriage of justice. A year ago, he was convicted of the murder of two women and sentenced to life in prison. But now he’s free, and according to him, he’s innocent.
DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve finds out, the less convinced she is of his guilt.
Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?
This summer I made the conscious decision to play catch up with my TBR list. It’s been tough going, but I’ve managed to resist most review requests and NetGalley temptations, in order to find time to read and review some of the books already piled up on my shelves/Kindle. Cruel Acts has been on my TBR list for a while and I was so pleased to finally get around to reading it.
The DS Maeve Kerrigan books are one of my favourite police procedural series and Cruel Acts is another fantastic addition to the series. I have not yet read all of the earlier books, so I do need to go back and catch up on a few, however the books can be read as a standalone.
Leo Stone is released from prison after having his conviction overturned. He may be free due to a technicality, but DS Maeve Kerrigan knows that the man is a ruthless killer and, being tasked with reinvestigating the murders, she is determined to ensure the evidence is air tight for the retrial. When another woman goes missing, it is a race against time for Kerrigan and her partner DI Josh Derwent to find the woman before it’s too late and to prove Stone’s connection to the disappearance. The investigation is not as straightforward as they would have hoped and Kerrigan finds herself becoming less sure of Stone’s guilt.
The story is cleverly plotted and felt very real, particularly as Kerrigan and Derwent visit the families of Stone’s victims. It’s not often that police procedurals re-visit the families years down the line and show the gap left in their lives from the loss of a loved one. It humanises the victims and adds some emotion to the story, further emphasised by the occasional chapters told from a victim’s point of view.
Kerrigan and Derwent are an interesting pair. They bicker like children, yet it is obvious that they work well together and have a great deal of respect for each other. They are individually great characters and together prove to be a formidable investigative team.
I also like Casey’s writing style. The story is quick flowing and compelling, yet there are a few paragraphs which are so very evocative. I particularly loved a paragraph in chapter 15 in which a victim’s friend reminisces about the summer the victim disappeared
“It had been one of those summers – day after day of warm weather, work as a passing irrelevance, long lazy evenings in tiny gardens as blue smoke spiralled up from citronella candles and everything seemed hilarious….. that twenty-something world of few responsibilities, late nights, sausages charred to black and split along their length, the sweet, bitter taste of gin cocktails, crying in the bathroom over a stupid argument, huddling up on the sofa to watch TV as a summer storm dumped a month of rain on London in one evening, secrets blossoming in silences, the hard tap of heels on wooden floors, sunburn and freckles, dishes piled in the sink…. It had seemed to them as if it was going to last forever – as if they would live forever.”
That whole paragraph really resonated with me. It transported me straight back to my university days – drinking cheap wine in the garden into the early evening, topping up our tans outside the university bars, cramming onto sofas to for movie evenings, those heady times when lectures/seminars were merely an daily inconvenience in our carefree lives. It certainly created a sense of nostalgia for me.
Cruel Acts is a fantastic read. It’s clever, engaging and will leave you wanting more. I can certainly see why this book won the 2019 Irish Independent crime fiction book of the year. Casey is a great storyteller and I am already looking forward to picking up my the next book in the series or, indeed, going back to read the ones that I have missed.
Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book for review.
About the Author
“All my criminal elements have some basis in reality, no matter how awful they may be. Nothing is completely farfetched.” Jane Casey
Crime is a family affair for Jane Casey. Married to a criminal barrister, she has a unique insight into the brutal underbelly of urban life, from the smell of a police cell to the darkest motives of a serial killer.
This gritty realism has made her books international bestsellers and critical successes; while Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has quickly become one of the most popular characters in crime fiction.
Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award for The Stranger You Know, Jane has been shortlisted four times for the Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award and longlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.