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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

REVIEW: Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan @duttonbooks @livkiernan #allthebookreviews

Too Close To Breathe
by Olivia Kiernan

A solid debut thriller series!
Thank you to Dutton Books for these copies!

Continue below for the synopsis, reviews from Jessica and I and a short Q&A from the author!


Publisher:  Dutton
Published:  April 3, 2018
320 pages
Series: Frankie Sheehan #1
Genres:  Police Procedural, Thriller, Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

Olivia Kiernan’s tautly written debut novel immerses readers in a chilling murder case . . . and the tantalizing, enigmatic victim at the center of it all.

In a quiet Dublin suburb, within her pristine home, Eleanor Costello is found hanging from a rope.

Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan would be more than happy to declare it a suicide. Four months ago, Frankie’s pursuit of a killer almost ended her life and she isn’t keen on investigating another homicide. But the autopsy reveals poorly healed bones and old stab wounds, absent from medical records. A new cut is carefully, deliberately covered in paint. Eleanor’s husband, Peter, is unreachable, missing. A search of the couple’s home reveals only two signs of personality: a much-loved book on art and a laptop with access to the Dark Web. 

With the suspect pool growing, the carefully crafted profile of the victim crumbling with each new lead, and mysterious calls to Frankie’s phone implying that the killer is closer than anyone would like, all Frankie knows is that Eleanor guarded her secrets as closely in life as she does in death. 

As the investigation grows more challenging, Frankie can’t help but feel that something doesn’t fit. And when another woman is found murdered, the same paint on her corpse, Frankie knows that unraveling Eleanor’s life is the only way to find the murderer before he claims another victim . . . or finishes the fate Frankie only just managed to escape. 

Engrossing, complex, and atmospheric, Olivia Kiernan’s debut novel will leave readers breathless.

My Review:

There's just something about a flawed protagonist that I just love.  Frankie is certainly that.  After dealing with a horrible experience from her past case, she's back and what should be a run of the mill suicide case turns into a murder case that puts her right back into the danger she was hoping to avoid coming back into the force.

A solid debut series but doesn't really give you anything different from most procedurals out there.  The author does showcase PTSD and the lasting effects of a traumatic event and how it impacts every part of a person's life.  And I do love the mention and incorporation of anything dark web.  I'm so curious about this, by the way.  Does it really exist? (I'm sure it does.)  Would I ever be curious enough to go delving in? (Doubtful... very doubtful!)  The book does provide solid detective work over some out of the ordinary solving of a case that we tend to see and I appreciate the authenticity of this.

I will say that while I enjoyed the story line, I did feel that it dragged in some places and the incorporation of Frankie's past could have been a bit more seamless.  For a minute I was confused on whether I was reading about a new victim and where that came from... and then it began to make more sense.... and then it got darker and I DO LIKE DARK.  Frankie has been through the wringer and I fear for her safety for any future entanglements that may come with other cases.

Lovers of police procedurals will be drawn to this new series.  Let's see where the author takes Frankie on her journey, shall we?


Jessica's Review:

I'm always excited to see new thriller debuts and the beginnings of a new crime series. Olivia Kiernan's debut, TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE, did not disappoint! Most of the police procedurals can feel repetitive and dry at times, well this one is here to shake things up. It was refreshing to have something a little different and more disturbing. 

Dr. Eleanor Costello is poised, polished, and pretty perfect. The highly respected scientist is found dead in her home - it has all the hallmarks of a suicide. DCS Frankie Sheehan is on the case, and she begins to spot signs of foul play. This quickly goes from suicide case to catching a killer. She begins to gather information to paint a dark and vivid picture of the killer - how were the killer and victim connected? Is this bigger than just this isolated crime? 

I was incredibly impressed with this debut. The characters were well developed and we got just enough background and flashbacks of Frankie that I can tell she has more growing and flushing out coming in future novels! Dark imagery and some disturbing twists and turns, Kiernan will keep you guessing until the end. There were some bits and pieces I can see being a little on the confusing side, but they're all worth it in the end. Kiernan brings the reader on this journey and slowly gives you the pieces to put together. 

Overall, I'm excited for another crime series to come from this. If you want a police procedural that doesn't follow the same pattern as most, then this will be one to add to the TBR. I'm anxious to see where Olivia Kiernan takes Sheehan in future novels!

I give this one 4.5/5 stars!

Author Q&A

Olivia Kiernan is the author of TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE, a crime thriller where DCS Frankie Sheehan investigates the murder of Dr Eleanor Costello. At first glance the murder appears uncomplicated but soon spills out onto a dark canvas of fear, lies and murder.

Olivia Kiernan grew up in the Irish countryside, a background which left her with a great appreciation of storytelling. Being almost sensible she shelved aspirations of becoming a writer and embarked on a career in science, spending six years in university studying anatomy and physiology before receiving a BSc in Chiropractic in 2003. She worked in this vein for over a decade, always writing in the evenings after work and completing an MA in Creative Writing through part-time study in 2012.
In 2015, she began writing TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE as part of National Novel Writing Month, polishing off half the first draft by the end of the month-long writing marathon. After hiding the manuscript on her hard drive for close to a year, revisiting it from time to time to add a scene or remove one, she sent it out to agents. Within a month she had signed with a literary agent and in 2017 a dream was realised when TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE sold.

What does your writing process look like?

I am a backside in the seat kind of writer. I try not to indulge the side of me that wants to wait for the right moment. Because often, there’s no right moment. An idea might present itself, and it does feel like a presentation rather than a decision and I sit down and begin to write. I usually have a feel around for the right voice but once I get into the flow of writing, the voice comes and then I know I’m good to go. If life allows, I write something most days, if it doesn’t I don’t but it’s not because I’m avoiding the task at hand. I will say though, that for me, every project brings different demands, sometimes a story slips on to the page, no trouble at all, other projects leave you struggling at the desk and take much longer to get down.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

I don’t really have a specific part of the writing process that’s difficult but perhaps one of the most unpleasant aspects to working creatively is self-doubt. The doubt is not helped by the fact that a piece of work never manifests in the way you’ve expected. For me, anyway. But this is the way art should be and where it’s best. All artists, not only writers, walk through the same shadows eventually. However, I think when you experience moments of doubt, it’s usually a sign that you’re developing your craft, that you’re asking more of yourself. This is a natural part of improving. You test yourself more and therefore it’s normal to feel a little vulnerable at times.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/spirit animal?

I think maybe the hare. Growing up in the Irish countryside, it was such a thrill if I saw one. In Celtic mythology they are seen to have a somewhat magical presence and are a sign of good luck. I ask for both of these things when I sit down to write: some luck and a lot of magic.

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