Olivia Kiernan’s Debut Novel, Too Close to Breathe, Is Breathtaking

Frankie Sheehan is damaged goods. A brutal knife attack left her with scars, both physically and emotionally. Four months later, she’s back on the job as a detective chief superintendent for the Dublin police force. While she’s determined to stay focused on the new case – a woman found hanging from a beam in her living room – she’s also aware that the trial for the man who nearly ended her life is coming up.

Too Close to Breathe is Olivia Kiernan’s first novel and we are already waiting for her next one. She’s created an intriguing cast of characters, beginning with Frankie, a hard-driving police officer who has been confronted in the most brutal way possible with her own mortality. The men around her – specifically Detective Baz Harwood – are also struggling with their emotions, unsure whether they should treat Frankie the way they always have, or don kid gloves. 

The current case will need all of Frankie’s skills. Eleanor Costello’s death is originally ruled a suicide, but further investigation reveals she was murdered. The most obvious suspect, her husband Peter, is missing. And when it’s discovered that Eleanor, along with some of her colleagues at the University College Dublin, have been experimenting with coming as close to death as possible without actually dying, the investigation ventures into dangerous corners of the dark web. There’s also the significance of blue paint found in Eleanor’s mouth. When that paint turns up on other victims, a link is established. Is there a serial killer at work?

The bleak Dublin landscape becomes another character in Too Close To Breathe, exacerbating the novel’s sinister feeling. But the story depends on a fascinating central player and Frankie Sheehan is certainly that person. Although we learn some of her backstory in this book, my guess is that Kiernan has only just begun to flesh out what demons may lurk in Frankie’s past. We can’t wait to find out.

Too Close To Breathe
Olivia Kiernan

Author photo: Digital Dreams Photography

About Charlene Giannetti (306 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including the New York Times. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her new book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "1Life After You," focusing on the opioid crisis that will be filmed in 2019. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.