Stone Cold Heart By Caz Frear. Gripping, gritty and beautifully written - book review -

Stone Cold Heart
Stone Cold Heart
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When Caz Frear’s blistering crime thriller, Sweet Little Lies, won Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller competition in 2017, both the fictional cop and her creator caused a considerable stir in the book world.

When Caz Frear’s blistering crime thriller, Sweet Little Lies, won Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller competition in 2017, both the fictional cop and her creator caused a considerable stir in the book world.

The complex and compelling murder mystery – starring an excitingly original London Met detective harbouring a dangerous, criminal secret stretching back to her native Ireland – earned Frear a lucrative publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre.

And now Frear is back with Cat Kinsella, her young, up-and-coming sleuth, for the much-anticipated follow-up… and the good news is that Stone Cold Heart delivers the same addictive mix of superb writing, authentic characters, impressive police procedural, edge-of-the-seat suspense, and a plot that thrills and confounds right through to the final, unexpected showdown.

After a brief stint in the Mayor’s Office, DC Cat Kinsella is back at the London Met’s Murder Investigation Team, wisecracking with her partner DS Luigi Parnell and trying to avoid the wrath of their much-revered boss, DI Kate Steele.

When Cat is approached by local coffee shop owner, Joseph Madden, for advice about his wife, Rachel, there is not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel is ‘unstable’ and has been threatening him, but he won’t give Cat precise details as to why she has said she is going to make him ‘suffer.’

Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it until 22-year-old Australian Naomi Lockhart, who was temping as a PA at a city recruitment firm, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel Madden.

The initial investigation points to Joseph but he insists he’s innocent and that he was at home with Rachel at the time of the murder. When police question her, Rachel contradicts his alibi, swearing that she was home alone.

While the team builds its case against Joseph, Cat is given the task of getting to the heart of the Maddens’ marriage. Cat knows that one of them is lying, but the question of which one, and why, is far more complicated than she could have expected.

As she tries to balance the demands of the investigation with a budding romance and an unresolved family drama, Cat has to decide how far she will go to keep her own past mistakes buried…

Cat Kinsella is fascinating leading lady… a first-class detective but also a passionate, tough, abrasive young woman, always on the defensive and constantly hiding her vulnerability, insecurity and natural sensitivity beneath a brash, brittle and flippantly cynical veneer.

The dark secrets buried in Cat’s family history cast a long shadow and she knows that the person her colleagues see is not the real deal, but she has become ‘so adept at fooling people that sometimes even I still believe I’m a good person.’

But Cat’s past has made her strong and very human, and Frear arms her with some darkly satirical one-liners and an eclectic team of police colleagues as she negotiates a twisting, turning case featuring a baffling murder, some fascinating suspect and an extraordinary cliffhanger ending that will leave readers yearning for more.

Gripping, gritty and beautifully written, Stone Cold Heart can easily be read as a standalone but is undoubtedly best enjoyed in tandem with Sweet Little Lies.

(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)