The Reckoning by Jane Casey is the second in her DC Maeve Kerrigan British procedural series (available May 22, 2012).
I have no patience for weak heroines. This is why Maeve Kerrigan and I get along well. Take her debut appearance in last year’s The Burning. This is a woman who gets kicked in the head by a serial killer and is itching to check out of the hospital to wrap up the case. Fractured skull? All in a day’s work for this London DC. She is on the Serious Crimes Squad, after all. Boots and heads don’t usually collide in white-collar crime. It’s lucky that blow to the head didn’t cause lasting damage because the brain inside that formerly fractured skull is a formidable one. Too bad her new DI is content for said brain to rattle around like a lump of unused muscle tissue as long as Maeve looks the part of the attractive female subordinate. They’re investigating the torture and murder of two men, unconnected except that both were convicted pedophiles.
[Derwent] shrugged. “No one much cares about the victims, do they? No one is going to be demanding pedophiles should be better protected.”
“Realistic. Anyway, don’t worry about it, sweetheart. We’ll work it out together. I’ll make sure you’re not left out at the prize-giving.”
I restrained myself from rolling my eyes. Fantastic. Another copper who was going to talk down to me just because I was female. Sweetheart my arse.
Derwent was still talking, oblivious. “According to the boss, this is an important case and needs sensitive handling. That’s why he assigned you to work on it with me, which makes some sort of sense. The last thing I need is one of those hairy-arsed DCs from the team clumping around offending the families by saying the wrong thing.”
“I’ll do my best to avoid that,” I said stiffly.
“That’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything at all. Just stand back, look pretty, and let me do all the work.” Derwent squinted out through the windscreen and I was glad he didn’t look in my direction, because the expression on my face was nothing short of murderous.
As it’s already been proven that Maeve is not the meek and mild type, it hardly needs stating that this partnership with DI Josh Derwent goes less than swimmingly. This also hardly needs stating but I’m going to state it anyway: I have absolutely zero patience for male characters who encourage weak heroines. This is not to say that as a foil, I didn’t get a certain thrill from reading about Josh’s chauvinistic exploits, particularly when he tells Maeve, after she took witness statements at a crime scene:
“Let’s get one thing straight, okay? I don’t like initiative. I don’t like people thinking for themselves. I don’t like having to search for a junior officer who’s taken it upon herself to wander off. […] Your first mistake was thinking. You’re not here to think.”
Of course, Maeve ignores all of Josh’s directives (wouldn’t you?) and it’s to Casey’s considerable credit that she doesn’t turn their sparring into an eventual lover’s quarrel. Besides, Maeve is already in an on-again off-again relationship with fellow DC Rob Langton, introduced in The Burning. Unlike Josh, Rob is the respectful sort, the sort who cares about a woman’s opinions. And his temper is almost as fiery as Maeve’s, so they’re either a perfect match or big trouble. It would be easier to figure out whether or not the two were compatible if Maeve would give the relationship a chance but, as her brother and Rob both unhelpfully point out, commitment is not one of her many strengths.
The paradoxical saving grace and downfall of being a (fictional) cop while trying to navigate the trappings of a relationship is that one’s job provides myriad opportunities to concentrate on things other than one’s own love life. For Maeve, it’s the murders of the pedophiles that take her mind off her complicated situation with Rob. Especially given Josh’s view that the victims—one who downloaded child pornography, another who raped two young girls, and a priest convicted of molestation—deserved their fate. When Maeve declares that no one deserves to die the way the men died—all three were tortured prior to death—she’s ridiculed for being soft and Josh suggests she should consider becoming a lawyer as her impassioned speech about justice would make a smashing closing argument. I don’t know what the punishment is for smacking your co-worker, and superior officer, when you’re a cop, but I was hoping Maeve’s fist would teach Josh’s mouth a lesson, consequences be damned. Luckily, she had more restraint.
Jordan Foster grew up in a mystery bookstore in Portland, Oregon. She has a MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia University, which she’s slowly paying off by writing about crime fiction for Publishers Weekly and Bookish. She’s back in Portland, where it’s nice and rainy and there are endless places to stash bodies. She tweets @jordanfoster13.
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