When a young London detective delves into the life of a murder victim, she finds out that the woman may have deep connections to her own family’s past in Frear’s debut.
Cat Kinsella remembers the summer she spent as a child in Mulderrin, Ireland, because it was then that glamorous Maryanne Doyle went missing. Cat has always suspected that her father, a charming ne’er-do-well who owns a pub and has connections to organized crime, may have played a sinister role in Maryanne’s disappearance, but she’s never been able to prove anything. The tension has poisoned her relationships with both her father and her sister, and as Christmas approaches, and she pulls a new murder case, she looks for ways to avoid confronting her past. She’s already in department-mandated therapy, mostly for “over-empathizing” with murder victims, and while she gets on well with her partner, Luigi Parnell, and the rest of the squad, her personal life seems a mess. As Cat and Parnell investigate Alice Lapaine’s death, however, they quickly discover that she is not who they thought she was, and as they unearth level after level of deception and lies, Cat begins to fear that her own secrets may be exposed as well. Though the book begins in medias res in terms of Cat’s life and her memories, it's a bit slow to start. Cat is somewhat prickly, which makes her hard to get to know, but as the investigation and the story wind on, she earns our sympathy and our trust because we can see that, while flawed, she acts for the victims, and she struggles with the conflict she feels for her own family. The solution to the mystery is a legitimate surprise, and Cat’s evolution from one-dimensional sad sack to complex, honest adult is both believable and welcome, putting her on par with Susie Steiner's and Tana French's female detectives.
A truly satisfying—and gritty—mystery.