Title: The Last Girl
Author: Jane Casey
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan is back in her third novel released in the U.S., and this time, she’s investigating a brutal murder. When the wife and daughter of a prominent lawyer are found dead in their London home, there are many more questions than answers. Why was the lawyer, Philip Kennford, simply bashed over the head and left unconscious, but alive? And why was their second daughter left completely unharmed, and furthermore, why isn’t she talking to the police? As each development in the case leads to more questions, Maeve must use all her resources to get to the bottom of this case.
The Last Girl is the third Maeve Kerrigan novel, and it picks up soon after the previous novel ended. London is experiencing a heat wave, so every occurrence is tinged with the exhaustion and difficulty of working in these conditions. Things are sluggish and slow (not the plot by any means—just the overall feeling of the novel). Casey writes her atmosphere very well, and readers will enjoy the vivid descriptions of London and appreciate the refreshing of air conditioning as they indulge in this novel.
Maeve was a character who endeared herself from the second she was introduced, and that continues on every page of The Last Girl. It would be incredibly difficult to dislike her; she’s smart and savvy, but also has some insecurities about her profession, a woman in a male-dominated job. Her relationship with Rob takes center stage in this novel; while Maeve has always had commitment issues, it becomes clear that Rob isn’t perfect either. While these two do have their problems to work out, readers will love both of them and will root for them to find common ground, even as the oppressive heat is pushing them towards petty conflict and irritability.
The plot of The Last Girl is certainly interesting. I’ll admit, for much of the novel, I was at just as much of a loss as to who the killer might be as Maeve was. While, towards the end, I did see it coming, it’s incredibly well done. One intriguing aspect of this novel is that Casey wrote it very procedurally—Maeve and her partner go through anyone who might have had a reason to harm Philip Kennford, which, given his job of defending people who are usually guilty, isn’t a short list. Seeing each of these people brought to life and hearing their backstories is both rewarding and very interesting.
Casey also pays special attention to the secondary characters, specifically DI Derwent, who likely drove readers crazy in previous installments. Despite the fact that he’s awful, he somehow manages to grow on the reader; his banter with Maeve serves to lighten up a serious storyline and actually provides some laugh-out-loud moments. It’s really the relationships that drive Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan novels, so if you haven’t picked them up yet, I highly recommend you start with the first U.S. release, The Burning. This is a very enjoyable series of novels that crime fiction fans shouldn’t hesitate to read as soon as possible.
Other books by Jane Casey: