A hotbed of rivalries
Jane Casey’s The Last Girl is book 3 in a series written around the Met murder squad. Casey follows, particularly, the fortunes of her central character, Maeve Kerrigan, who in this book is a DC. Without having read any of the others I don’t know whether she moves up the ranks in later books!
I came to this after being worn down by my dear blogging friend FictionFan, whose ceaseless championing of Jane Casey meant I thought I’d give her a try! Can YOU resist FictionFan on full author championing mode? Here is her review of this title
What I particularly liked in this is the edgy, irritable relationship between Kerrigan, a thoughtful, intelligent young woman, and her immediate superior, DI Josh Derwent. Whereas Kerrigan has definite people skills and an understanding of psychology Derwent is a bull in the china shop, abrasive, intimidating, and an unremittingly sexist old dinosaur (like some of his fellow colleagues) Nevertheless, Kerrigan and Derwent have a curious kind of respect for each other, and are a good foil, in some ways. Most gloriously, Derwent is definitely in the Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes Gene Hunt mode. A man so crass, so eye-wateringly rude, that his dreadful ‘you can’t say that…..you can’t even THINK that’ pronouncements are darkly hilarious – because Maeve Kerrigan lets Derwent’s crassness just roll off her like water off a duck’s bag – she recognises he is a bit of a pathetic puppy under the bluster, and he is certainly no predator.
I would like to give a sample of their verbal exchanges but in order to do so, I might have to change the general suitability rating of material on this site. Derwent’s mouth needs scrubbing at times, with lysol and bleach! And a mere sample would probably be more offensive than it actually is, because the reader rather absorbs Kerrigan’s strength and perspicacity, as a point of view
The particular crime under investigation in this one, is the murder of the wife and daughter of an unlikeable defence barrister, Philip Kennford, who is indeed a sexual predator, a serial philanderer. And moreover someone who has a bad history as far as the police are concerned, getting vicious criminals who are definitely guilty, off, due to his brilliance at the bar. And he has made a lot of enemies.
Simultanously, along with the investigation of the domestic crime, is an ongoing enquiry into continuing gangland violence which is being overseen by Superintendant Godley, and this particular investigation will overlap the Kennford murder case. Not to mention begin to uncover some crossing the line activity within the Met itself.
The tight knit, incestuous jockeying for promotion and advantage within the police team, echoes nicely with the more brutal attempts to become top dog in the drugs related battles for who controls the street supply, with traditional South London godfathers facing new rivals moving in on the turf from Eastern Europe.
And it turns out that the Kennford family is itself a remarkably complicated one, as Kennford is on to his second marriage and has a string of discarded partners, some of whom may have been intimidated into having sex, by virtue of his professional power over them.
With several tribes snapping at each others heels like hyenas, jockeying for pole position, whether as alpha females within the confused collection of past and present women around Kennford, the rivalries around seniority and promotion in the police teams, and the most deadly playing out of the battle for control of London’s underworld, there is a lot of plot happening.
Casey creates interesting characters with believeable relationships, and I particularly enjoyed the police procedural – there’s not too much interminable detail around computers, it’s mainly unravelling what is going on between people.
Nonetheless, an enjoyable read.