The morning that I went for my drivers licence, I'm not sure who was the most worried. My very patient, very kind driving instructor or me. Because we both knew that when it came to parking, I might as well be driving a block of flats. It didn't matter what that poor man did, there was no way in the world I could "get" parallel parking, and nothing much has changed in the intervening years. So I guess from the opening scenes of Jane Casey's THE BURNING I was feeling a little frisson of connection with DC Maeve Kerrigan.
That connection alone is never going to be enough to hold a reader's interest in any particular book however, particularly as I'm not convinced that the book should be described as a thriller. It's definitely more in the vein of a police procedural, albeit with a strong feeling of tension and pressure.
Whilst there is the search for a serial killer at the centre of the storyline this is another twist on that scenario in that Kerrigan's focus is actually on a killing, initially put down to the serial killer, but with sufficient differences to make her question that. This means that this victim's life needs to be examined closely, and along the way, that of her friend Louise North.
Somewhere in the characters of North, the victim Haworth, and her wealthy handsome ex-boyfriend who seems to have a rather sinister reason for transferring his attentions to North, there's obviously an unreliable narrator. The question is which one. Or is it any of these three. Could it perhaps be one of Haworth's other past lovers? As the viewpoint switches back and forth between Kerrigan and North, there are glimpses of the truth that kept this reader intrigued right to the end.
Personally I really liked the character of Kerrigan. I liked her imperfections and doubts, her reckless commitment to the task at hand. I liked the slightly tongue in cheek humour, the idea that she was a woman holding her own in a world of blokes with attitude problems. I thought there was much about her that was very appealing, although I'd imagine that some people could struggle with the very laid-back, dry sense of humour.
The best thing about getting to this party late as usual, is that there are more books out now in the Maeve Kerrigan series, which have gone onto the Must Acquire list.