Why we love it: it’s not surprising to learn that author Jane Casey has an inside track on some of the most dangerous minds around – from her criminal barrister husband she gleans many juicy and authentic details about real-life cases. Her latest, Let the Dead Speak, is a deeply creepy crime novel that will chill you to the bone, and the suspense-driven plot will have you burning the midnight oil.
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to the west London home she shares with her mother, after abruptly ending a trip to her father’s house in Oxfordshire, she finds an horrendous scene – the walls, floors, and even the ceilings, are splattered with blood. It’s enough to make the creepy neighbor, Mr Norris, wrench up his guts in the doorway after giving Chloe a lift from the station in the pouring rain.
When detective Maeve Kerrigan arrives on the scene she and her colleagues are stumped. There’s blood everywhere, obvious signs of a struggle, but no body, leaving them with no clue to what happened and nothing to prove that it’s a murder scene, even though everything suggests it must be. The assumption is that the blood belongs to Chloe’s mother and the DNA tests prove it does, but with no flesh to speak of, the detectives don’t have much to go on. Maeve is newly promoted and she’s navigating her way through the tense dynamics between her longstanding colleague Josh Derwent, her boss DCI Una Burt, and newbie, Georgia Shaw, who’s trying to prove herself too, often at Maeve’s expense.
The neighbours across the road – shifty Mr Morris and his wife who are part of an evangelical religious group and parents of Chloe’s best friend Bethany – begin to act strangely, and so does Norris’s equally shifty brother, Morgan, who Maeve instantly recognises as a predator type. Then there’s the young and handsome asthmatic guy down the street who’s been accused of a violent crime in the past. So while there are enough suspects to fill a jail cell, there’s nothing to hang it on any of them and still no sign of that body . . .
There’s something so intensely riveting about this story, it’s a hard one not to read compulsively chapter after chapter or even to devour in one sitting. It has all the classic elements of a great whodunit – suspense-laden plot, a profusion of intriguing secrets from the various suspects’ pasts, and a nail-biting race to the end, as the various threads of this mysterious crime start to unravel.
Let the Dead Speak features Casey’s regular character, the feisty Maeve Kerrigan from her previous bestselling novels The Burning, The Reckoning, The Last Girl, The Stranger You Know and The Kill. Maeve Kerrigan is a hardened female detective full of flaws – not least her testy relationship with sidekick Derwent, and her suspicions of new underling, Georgia – and, along with the killer plot, she’s what makes this novel so compelling and entertaining.
Jane Casey is a bestselling novelist, nominated for several awards, including the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Born in Dublin, she now lives in southwest London with her husband and two children.