Kindle British Mystery Book Club discussion

The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan, #1)
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Book Club Selection > September 2013 Group Read - The Burning by Jane Casey

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message 1: by David (new)

David Gooch | 4042 comments Mod
A determined young police constable goes it alone against an enigmatic killer and her bosses in a series debut.

"The media call him The Burning Man, a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death, before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London's parks. And now the fifth victim has been found...

Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve's empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice.

But how do you catch a killer no one has seen? And when so much of the evidence they leave behind has gone up in smoke?"


Bill Kupersmith | 580 comments Mod
I shall post some discussion points about midnight GMT & should you wish to write on something else about Jane Casey's The Burning, do. Remember, no spoilers till 1st Oct. - some readers are still finishing - then it's wide open.


message 3: by Bill (last edited Sep 27, 2013 02:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill Kupersmith | 580 comments Mod
I invented these discussion points to focus my own review, which I shall post 1st Oct. If you don't find them helpful, ignore any or all & write about what interested you in The Burning. If you post any comments before Oct. please avoid spoiling the suspense for those still trying to finish, but after Monday anything goes.

1. What did you think of Maeve Kerrigan? You might compare her to some of your other favourite protagonists in crime fiction? If you have read of the other novels in this series, you could mention them, but try to keep the focus on The Burning.

2. Narration is mostly shared between Maeve and Louise. Did you find that effective? What did you think of Louise? What did you think of how we learn Louises's back story & the history of Louise's friendship with Rebecca?

3. What about the Burning Man plot? Did it contribute to effectiveness of the book?

4. What did you think of how Maeve & the police find out who actually killed Rebecca? Have you read other crime novels that were similarly solved?


Bill Kupersmith | 580 comments Mod
1. What did you think of Maeve Kerrigan? You might compare her to some of your other favourite protagonists in crime fiction? If you have read of the other novels in this series, you could mention them, but try to keep the focus on The Burning.

I find Maeve Kerrigan quite the enigma. Usually I can classify principal characters as strong or weak; Tana French's Cassie Maddox & S. J. Bolton's Lacey Flint are strong, admirable & very capable, whatever their personal problems. The alcoholics who pervade Scottish & Scandanavian crime novels seem pathetic and contemptible. Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway is a little on the weak side & Sophie Hannah's Simon Waterhouse & Charlie Zailer are so weak they have to lean on each other to keep from collapsing in a heap. Maeve excels in her determination to succeed on Godley's team; she shows a lot of initiative & her insecurities are understandable. But Maeve's deference to her mother - a provincial & bigoted Irish boor - befits a 16 year old, not a mature woman of 28 who has served on the police force for five years. Maeve should make it clear that if her mother wants a relationship with her, Maeve expects her to respect and support her choice of careers. It was also hard to believe that Maeve would live with such a poor excuse for a man as Ian, who seemed more likely to be dating Pippa Middleton - or more accurately, would think he ought to be dating Pippa Middleton, who really seems to prefer men with character. Even after reading all the Maeve Kerrigan series thus far, it is still hard for me to grasp the mystery of her character - strong & decisive sometimes and very weak and vacillating at others.

2. Narration is mostly shared between Maeve and Louise. Did you find that effective? What did you think of Louise? What did you think of how we learn Louise's back story & the history of Louise's friendship with Rebecca?

This was my third reading, though I'd pretty much forgotten the first time through, & this time I felt not only that I liked Louise & admired her strength & determination to succeed both at Oxford & in the City, but that if her personality could somehow be combined with Maeve's, Maeve would be the person she ought to aspire to be. (Louise certainly would have sorted out Maeve's mother!) All of Louise's victims - three, which is good going for someone not aspiring to full-time serial killer - fell in the category of people who needed killing, especially Adam Rowley, whose demise even the police realized did the whole world a service & I cannot believe that Rebecca would have felt guilty about it, especially as she played no role in it, & I would think she would have been grateful to Louise for avenging the rape. As for granny, she should have supported Louise's education at Oxford by choice & got to do it willy-nilly. I felt bad about Louise's having to kill Rebecca, who was once the very attractive person Louise so wanted to be, but was now pretty much a train wreck. It was only after I'd finished my third reading and formulating my questions that it struck me that Louise had no need to murder (at least in an obvious way) Rebecca. Rebecca was a cocaine addict. Why kill her when with a little help from her friends Rebecca would kill herself with her addiction? After all, Louise put herself through college as a drug dealer; she surely could have obtained some 'really good shit' for her friend that would have made her die happy. Or as a City high flyer she ought easily to have found colleagues who would have supplied Rebecca's needs for coke (they carry 'Charlie' in their cuff links according to Nicola Monaghan!) in exchange for sex. Hard to believe that Jane Casey, her friends, her agent, her editors, & other reviewers haven't noticed this obvious flaw in the plot before.

3. What about the Burning Man plot? Did it contribute to effectiveness of the book?

Other than giving Maeve a chance to be out with a surveillance team & to get closer to Rob, it was completely unnecessary. I expect it was part of Jane Casey's original idea for the story, where it would have played a much larger role, & Louise pretty much took over as the principal villain instead. Could have been written out altogether. Also sending Kelly to prison for two years for knifing Blackstaff was an example of hysterical English 'justice' - where self defense is punishable by a prison term - at its most pathetic. The man's obviously a total sleaze and badly in need of killing.

4. What did you think of how Maeve & the police find out who actually killed Rebecca? Have you read other crime novels that were similarly solved?

I believe in at least two Val McDermid novels CCTV pictures play an important role in the solution. One reason authors such as Andrew Taylor seem to be increasingly turning to historicals is that forensics & technology are making detection obsolete. Why deduce the villain from clues when all the police need do is look at DNA & CCTV pictures? In real life juries now expect forensic evidence just like on CSI, & in real life it's often absent. Louise was very careless with the car & with talking to the police. In the same circumstances, Lacey Flint would have stolen the car she needed to transport the body & she would have afterwards driven it to a sink estate & set fire to it, so even it were found & there were any DNA evidence there'd be no way to connect the car with her. Remember that if you find yourself needing to dispose of a body & a car.


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