Many writers whose debut novel dazzles often fail to produce a followup that is equally well done. Caz Frear defies those odds, following up her compelling Sweet Little Lies with an even better Stone Cold Heart. Her protagonist, Cat Kinsella, a detective constable in Ireland, is still trying to sort out her complicated feelings for her father, Mike. But while that relationship was center stage in the first book, troubles dogging other families now occupy Cat’s attention.
When Naomi Lockhart, an Australian woman, turns up dead after a party thrown by her employer, suspicion falls on a local thug, Joseph Madden. He insists he’s innocent, but his wife, Rachel, fails to provide him with an alibi. Cat becomes part detective, part marriage counselor as she tries to sort out who is telling the truth.
Another couple is involved – Marcus Connor, and his wife, Kirstie, who once had an affair with Joseph and now, perhaps hoping to receive forgiveness for that indiscretion, is Rachel’s best friend. Added to the mix is the Madden daughter, Clara, who also may be involved, if not in the actual crime, at least in the cover up.
Back for return engagements are Cat’s partner, Luigi Parnell, and her superior, Detective Inspector Kate Steele. Between chasing down clues and interviewing suspects, Cat tries to maintain something of a social life with the new man in her life, Aiden Doyle, whose sister, Maryann, figures prominently in the first book. Cat continues to hide a secret from Aiden, a secret that would not only finish their relationship, but also end her career as a police officer.
There’s a lot of back and forth as first one suspect and then another rises to the top of the list. But things get sorted out in the end. What Frear does so well is write dialogue that is not only engaging but helps to define each character’s heart and soul.
The book has the kind of ending that takes the breath away. Cat’s story is just beginning and we are definitely signing on for the ride.
Stone Cold Heart
Top photo credit: Rebecca Knowles Photography