Too Close to Breathe: A Novel

Too Close to Breathe: A Novel

by Olivia Kiernan

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Overview

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 earlier, 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 you breathless.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524742621
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 44
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK. She was born and raised in County Meath near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in creative writing awarded by the University of Sussex. She is also the author of Too Close to Breathe.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

There hadn't been a suicide note. The victim remains resolutely tight-lipped, stone-cold silent; the best and the worst witness of her end. A note would allow mourners to hold on to something. Assert blame. Be angry at what's written. Tear the fucking thing up if they wanted. Without it, there is nothing. Grief battles alone. Even so, I imagine I see a ghost of a smile at the corners of her swollen mouth, the kind of smile that speaks of secrets. Secrets she'll take to the grave.

The narrow-faced pathologist begins the autopsy. She walks the length of the victim's body, reporting her findings in clipped, clinical tones.

"Time of death: approximately 20:00, 19 October 2011. Cause: suspected asphyxiation by hanging. Manner of death: pending. Victim: thirty-nine years old, female. Autopsy performed by Dr. Abigail James; also present, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan and Assistant Commissioner Jack Clancy."

We are in Whitehall. Dublin city's state-of-the-art supermortuary. The viewing area is fondly nicknamed "the Waiting Room," a sour reminder that there's a good chance of ending up on some pathologist's chopping block one day.

I look down on the doc. She's peering into the victim's mouth, a penlight in her hand. She's another unfamiliar face-the doc. Another adjustment. Although change is fair game when you've been away for months, it makes me feel cheated.

"She's new."

Jack Clancy stays focused on the victim below. He sticks his hands in his pockets, rocks on his heels. "Still as sharp as ever, I see. I hope your detective skills aren't as diabolical as your observation skills, Sheehan."

"See that?" I point to a half-drunk cup of coffee, smiling. "Unfinished. No lip till that mug's empty. What happened to the last guy?"

"He fecked off to Australia, like the rest of the bloody country," he says.

"Detective Harwood?"

"Back at the office."

"I thought he'd moved to Special?"

"Ballistics."

"What happened? Couldn't keep away?" I flash a smile at him.

A cloud of worry grows behind Clancy's eyes. When he speaks, every part of his face joins in: His eyebrows punch up, down; his mouth flattens, puckers; and the skin trembles over his jawline.

"We had to move some staff around, Frankie. Your team, intimidated as they are, turn out to be as loyal as beaten dogs, but we don't have another detective at your level to work with you."

"I prefer to work alone," I reply.

The remainder of my coffee is a cold sludge of half-dissolved sugar, about as welcoming as the day began and as predictable as it would continue.

I bring the subject back to terra firma. "What are we doing here for this fluff then? We're a bit much for an open-and-shut suicide."

The expression on his face tells me he doesn't think I'm much for anything at the moment. I straighten. Meet his eyes.

"The coroner had an uneasy feeling about this one," he answers. He raises an eyebrow at the phrase "uneasy feeling." "The commissioner is twitchy."

"Twitchy?"

He doesn't answer.

"About me?"

Silence. There is a tang of bile at the back of my tongue.

"Fuck 'em." I glance sideways at him, hoping to see some agreement in his face, but his mouth remains a hard line, his eyes forward.

After a while, he speaks: "What are you thinking then?"

"Of the victim?"

He sighs. "The suspect."

"Now that's a philosophical question." A tight grin. "You obviously don't think this is simply a plain old 'I'm checking out of this shit hole by myself' job?"

His shoulders shift beneath his jacket. "There is always that."

I turn. The doc, Abigail, is narrating the woman's story:

"The cranium is intact, no sign of fracture. There is a right lateral shift of the occiput on C1, which is compatible with significant upper-cervical spine displacement from hanging. Lateral C spine radiological examination shows bilateral pars interarticularis fracture, or hangman's fracture, which suggests a sudden drop of the body onto the rope."

"Seems to be the death of choice these days," Clancy says from over my shoulder.

I'm aware that at some point during Abigail's postmortem, my hand has moved to my neck. Mouth tight, dry, my breath still and small in my chest.

I swallow, and the walls of my throat stick together. "You know, it's still an unusual choice for a woman. More of a man's death."

Clancy is tense. I can feel it rippling from him in waves.

I cough, try to sound like I've got my game face on: "Historically, when women kill themselves, they tend to use less immediate methods such as pills or blades. Hanging, although not uncommon, is not usually their first mode of exit." I throw in a smile for good measure.

Clancy steps up to the window, looks down on the victim in the room below.

"Maybe this wasn't her first choice," he says.

"Maybe." I lean on the intercom. "Dr. James? What's on the left arm there?"

Abigail glares up at the window.

I let out a brief whistle of air. "Someone doesn't like breaking out of her routine."

Clancy nods permission at the doctor, and with stiff shoulders she moves down the body and continues to narrate her findings.

"On the left forearm, just distal to the cubital fossa, there is a linear cut through the skin, appears to have been created with a very sharp instrument like a razor blade. There is dark coloring along the edges of the skin. Maybe an old tattoo mark or paint residue from the blade or cutting device used."

She stops briefly, takes up a specimen tube, and swabs the area. Dates and labels the contents, then continues: "The opening of the wound is two centimeters in length. However, no major blood vessels are disrupted."

"Bingo," I murmur, half to myself, half to the victim. "An attempt at slitting her wrists didn't work, so she hanged herself."

It's enough. Enough to hope it's as far as it goes. Small steps. Taking up the case file, I move toward the door. "See you back at the office?"

"Sheehan . . ." He sighs. "You should-"

I have to drag the lightness into my voice, into my frame. I turn, drop my hip, my hand slipping from the door. "Come on, Jack. You and I know I got this. I'll clean it up good. Trust me. No loose ends."

He studies my face for what seems like a full minute, tongue pushed against his cheek, chest high with tension. I know he sees beyond the high-collared white shirt, the fresh cut of hair sharp along the jaw and newly lightened. I know he's seeing the hollows. In my face. Below my eyes. The dark crease of the case file against clenched fingers. The pink scar running from hairline to left temple.

Finally, his shoulders fall, he lets out a long breath, and a dimple in his right cheek deepens. He looks like he's aged an entire year in that moment.

"All right. But if it gets too much."

I'm already moving out the door. "I know, I know. I'll call you in or something."

Once free of Whitehall, I turn left and head a short way down the pavement before ducking into a nearby side road. The road is more of a public driveway, an entrance to a sports ground. The dugouts are empty and littered from weekend matches. The pitches beyond are scarred brown at each end, but there are no cars parked. A good way down the driveway, breath seized in my chest, hands clinging to the case file like a lifeline, I stop, bend double, and throw up in a gutter.

It takes a moment for the retching to subside, and when I straighten, nose running, sweat trickling from my brow, I lean back against the wall, light a fag, and wait for my hands to stop trembling. As I look back up the drive, pedestrians march by, cars are dark speeding blurs, and somewhere beyond that, out in the streets of Dublin city, there are more dead bodies being found. More uninvited deaths for me to uncover.

"Fuck." The fag drops, and I crush out the smoldering stub, then leave the sports ground. At street level, I check for Clancy's presence, then quickly head for where I parked this morning. Inside the Waiting Room, Clancy will be ordering the tox reports I should have remembered. He's pissed. At himself. Frustrated at me. In my mind's eye, I see him run a large hand through his graying hair.

"I'm too old for this shit," he'll say. And when he sees me later, he'll have to fill me in on all the questions I couldn't bear to ask.

Coned party hats, no matter how jauntily positioned on the head, lose all sense of frivolity when greeted by someone who hates small talk and has a fresh corpse to deal with.

My arm is still outstretched, holding the door open. I intended on walking quietly into the office, giving a nod or two to a couple of my colleagues, then heading straight to my own corner of the building, closing the door, knocking the dust from my desk, and putting down a plan of action for the suicide case.

Helen, the only other woman on the team, steps forward and draws me into a hug. An action that reflects, no doubt, what all twenty-odd bodies in the room feel toward me at that moment: pity. I trained as a forensic scientist and profiler for four years, worked my way up through the ranks of Garda’ to detective super for fifteen, and I've been a detective chief super for two years, and in all that time I've never seen anyone bestow a hug on another officer. Plenty of backslapping, shoulder-punching, knuckle-touching, and understanding nods, but never a hug.

Suppressing horror and anger in equal measure, I struggle out of Helen's determined grasp. Stocky, her head only to my shoulder, an immovable bank of fat and muscle. She pulls away, eyes studiously avoiding my temple. The fluorescence of the office a shining circle of light on her forehead, hair so tightly wound that I can see where the teeth of her comb have scraped over her scalp.

"We wanted to show you how happy we all are that you're back," she crows, then turns, sweeps a hand around the office. Includes everyone.

I can't get my mouth to work fast enough.

"Thanks, everyone. It's good to be back." There is resentment in my voice and the whining sound of defensiveness. I swallow away my discomfort. They're waiting. "It's very kind of you all. But I thought fun and kindness were outlawed here?" A bark of laughter that no one returns.

Pitying eyes stare back from the corners of the office, a few understanding nods. Christ. How long do I have to stand here for? There's a large chocolate cake by the vending machine. Paper cups, plates; the lot. It answers my question.

Had Clancy known about this? I can't imagine it. I ignore the cake. The desire to reassert myself rises inside me.

"So, now that we've got that awkwardness out of the way, let's get to business, shall we? We have a suicide to tie up. Excuse the pun," I say, genuinely not having meant to reference the hanging. "Cake can wait till home time."

Helen shakes her head. "But-"

"Inspector, you should know me better by now. I don't suffer pity parties for my staff, and I certainly don't suffer them for myself. Am I clear?"

Helen is relatively new to the team. A year or so, and that is new in this job. Stripes are earned only by hard work and how long you've waded through your caseload without stopping for more than a fag and a coffee. She will make an incredible detective one day, but for now she's efficient to the point of grating, has yet to learn which fires to snuff out and which flames to fan and so throws everything into every detail.

She produces a small spiral notebook from a pocket at her knee, flips to a clean page.

"Yes, Chief," she murmurs, and makes a note.

Addressing the entire room, I raise my voice.

"By all means, if you can't bloody resist the chocolate cake, fill your party hats and go at it, but for fuck's sake, then get to work. Who's on the case-building team?"

"I'm with Stevo," Helen says. "The rest are following our lead."

"Have they recovered any phones from the scene?"

"No."

"We need to find the victim's phone."

"Forensics are still there. I'll call them."

"Anyone on CCTV?"

Helen shakes her head. She seems somewhat confused, and I don't blame her. "I didn't think there was a need."

"The manner of death hasn't been decided yet, Inspector."

"Sorry. Yes. I'll get started with street cameras." She ducks out of my path to the other side of the office.

I turn to Steve, a thin tech-head with a mighty obsession for detail. Steve was born staring into a laptop. His face wears the signs: pale skin, lavender smudges under his eyes. His chin, so pointed you could open a tin with it, sports a ginger goatee. At his elbow, a constant companion, an energy drink to power him through the day. Steve doesn't need a strong right hook to take a criminal down. He can do it all from the tap of his keyboard.

"Steve, a list of relatives, please. Any background info you can get on her husband."

He nods and I look out at the rest of the room. Gray determination and the odd slicing glance of coldness come swinging my way. That's better.

"Seems like a lot of man-hours for a suicide," someone mutters.

I let the comment go and turn for my office.

It has become a storeroom. Boxes of files stacked in the corner, solved, minor or major crimes, each one a fingerprint smudge against humanity. My eyes catch on a file at the top. The name: Tracy Ward. Case number: 301. No one has made an effort to move it. Weirdly, I find that hurtful. I shrug the emotion away.

I start up my computer and wait for it to whiz to life. My staff are right. This is a lot of manpower for a suicide. But I can't risk letting something slip. If the powers that be are as tetchy about this death as Clancy would have me believe, then I can't afford any complacency. Although, to be fair, complacency has never been my problem.

Truth is, the moment the plastic sheeting was drawn back from that woman this morning, I'd already begun shaping her personality in my mind. Short, classic, elegant hairstyle; the scent of the morning's hairspray lifting up from her fringe as if she'd just breezed by.

I see her hand, poised, then waving overhead, fingers depressing a nozzle; sticky vapor clouds the air before landing like shimmering dew over ash‑blond hair. A beat for the hairspray to dry, then a quick comb through to soften the effect along the chin.

Jewelry had been absent, removed prior to autopsy to prevent radiological interference. But in the soft pad of each purpling earlobe were identical puncture marks, where, undoubtedly, up until a few hours before, a pair of tasteful earrings were housed. My guess would be studs. Pearl. Luminescent to complement her pale skin. A medium ball, nothing ostentatious.

A slim‑fingered hand with neat French manicure pushes the butterfly back onto the gold‑stemmed post. A glance in the mirror to check how they look. The pearl reflects the white glow of her shirt.
The case file tells me I’m right. There, in the photo stack, item number four: two pearl earrings with gold‑plate backs.

Settling into my chair, I pull my notebook forward to build Eleanor Costello’s picture. The next photo shows an overall shot of the scene as found at 10:16 a.m. today.

A neighbor had become worried when the victim didn’t emerge for work. Did he always notice when she didn’t leave on time? Well, yes. He had a routine. Breakfast at the window. Eight a.m. The victim would walk by his house. For the morning train. Like a religion, it was. Hard not to notice that. But no, he didn’t notice anything unusual the night before—he’d been out late. They’d been neighbors for seven years. They shared keys; he often locked himself out of his house. Didn’t all neighbors hold copies of each other’s keys? No, he hadn’t been aware that Mrs. Costello suffered from depression. If she suffered from depression. Although, between him and me, he wasn’t altogether sure whether the marriage was always a happy one, if I knew what he meant. I didn’t. But he was not one for dropping anyone in it.

This was Neil Doyle: unmarried, intrusive, and exactly the type of person I’d cross the street to avoid. Everything about him was weak and soft, from the delicate bones of his elbows that appeared just below his sleeves to the small potbelly that rounded out the bottom of his T‑shirt. He worked from home. A consultant, whatever that meant.

The husband, Peter Costello, is unreachable. But the helpful neighbor supplied us with enough information on the guy to set up a bank account in his name and take out a mortgage. Although a mortgage would probably be rejected. Peter Costello is unemployed and has been for a long time.
The next photo shows the victim’s hands; the fingers curled in, like long petals, on the palm; the tips blue, as if dark ink were pooling along the crescent‑moon nail beds. The photos are labeled, left hand, then right. Apart from a small detail on the skin, both look very similar.

On the index finger of the right hand, above the knuckle, there is a line of purple‑brown dots. Petechiae caused by minute vessels bursting under the skin. The rope rips upward, grips her throat. Sudden, hard, and terrifying. She is gulping, her body kicking for air. She fights, her right hand pushing against the rope, working its way under. But the rope bites down and something pulls her arm away. Or someone.

My breathing falters, chest squeezing like a fist on a fly. My head, the scar running along my temple, feels newly sliced, oozing pain, sharp enough to make my eyes water. Anxiety is churning through my veins, thumping away at the undersurface of my stomach, pushing sweat into my eyes and down my back. I can feel fear swirling inside me. I could sense it this morning. My subconscious, ahead of my conscious, preparing me for the task ahead. The investigation not of a suicide but of a murder.

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Too Close to Breathe 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Celticlady1953KK More than 1 year ago
The Irish are fantastic storytellers, and Olivia Kiernan proves that she is going to be one of the best. Too Close to Breathe is the first in the Frankie Sheehan mystery/thriller series and debut novel for her. Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan who four months earlier, was almost killed in an attack trying to apprehend a killer. When she is called to a Dublin suburb to investigate the supposed suicide of a woman, Eleanor Costello, who is found hanging from a rope in her home. At first, it seems cut and dried and the case can be closed but after the autopsy report shows old wounds and broken bones Frankie realizes that this is not a suicide. Of course, the first suspect is the husband. Another woman's body is discovered with the same MO as Eleanor's. Then Paul Costello is found and that really throws the investigation into a tailspin. Frankie is challenged with all she has to try to figure out what really happened. Frankie is a strong but flawed, a bit rough around the edges, woman who tries to take charge of her demons and keep an open mind in her investigation. With the help of her team, Frankie pulls out all the stops in this case. Too Close to Breathe is a taut thriller that will have fans of Tanya French and Gillian Flynn excited to read this new author. I really loved the story and definitely want to read more from this Olivia Kiernan.
readers_retreat More than 1 year ago
Olivia Kiernan shows a lot of promise in this debut and series opener, based primarily in Dublin, it features some horrifying murders. A mesmerising mixture of murder, betrayal, and secrets, this is a police procedural that I very much enjoyed. DCS Frankie Sheehan feels like a character who has her own baggage, and story to tell, I do appreciate it when the investigators in a book are fleshed out in such a way as is done here. The author does a great job of developing her characters throughout the book. I kept guessing and each time was proved wrong, which is the ideal in a title from the crime thriller genre. It is now so hard to rise to the top of this genre as there are so many authors writing crime now. There are so many, with a lot of them being just mediocre. This is definitely above average but it didn't blow me away. I hope to see Kiernan publishing more of her work in the future. I would like to thank Olivia Kiernan, Quercus Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and impartial review.
Anonymous 13 hours ago
Exciting murder novel. Well written.
TheLifeofaBookAddict More than 1 year ago
DCS Frankie Sheehan is a good Detective. Unfortunately she had a little set back when she was attacked while investigating a prior case. Now back on the job, she needs to find out who murdered Dr. Eleanor Costello. This case is sort of a make it or break it situation for her. She needs to prove that she is still a very capable Detective and able to really handle work again. Plus stop a killer before they possibly strike again. I like Frankie. She is very good at what she does. She is tough as nails and isn’t afraid to make hard decisions that others might not be comfortable with. Plus she uses common sense...for the most part. Apart from the investigation though, I felt like I didn’t really connect with her character much. There were a couple of scenes where Frankie got crank calls (silence on the end). I was expecting the killer to start taunting Frankie as if they were too smart for their own good. Maybe some cat and mouse type games. There was some taunting, but it wasn’t that much. I was a little disappointed by that. The author, Olivia Kiernan has such a way with words. She knows how to create a well written mystery. I know I’ve mentioned this a thousand times before, but I hate being able to guess the ending or killer in a story. I was not able to do that with Too Close to Breathe. It kept me guessing from beginning to end. There are several red herrings and seemingly guilty parties. I thought I knew what direction the story was going, but I am happy to say that I was wrong. I would never have guessed who the killer was. That one really surprised me. I’m curious to see what’s next for Frankie. **Although I received this book on behalf of the Publisher, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.**
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
WOW... This is a debut book by Olivia Kiernan. DCS Frankie Sheehan has a lot going on. She is working on solving a string of crimes while also dealing with a crime that happen against her. There is no doubt the crime against her left her with many issues to deal with but working is helping her get on with her life. I like that a Frankie didn't let her issues keep her out of living life. I actually think that because of what happen it helps her keep prospective of the crimes, sees things other have or could have missed, and work harder to solve a crime that others have written off as unsolvable. I was enthralled from the beginning and by the halfway point of the story I thought I had the case solved. Yea, well I wasn't even close. I love being wrong while reading. The hints led me one way while I should have gone the other way. While there were some hints that I knew were taking me the wrong direction since what fun would it be to give it all away at the beginning of the story I couldn't help but follow them. I am a synopsis and cover person. For me to want to read a book the cover has to grab my attention. The cover of Too Close to Breathe did just that. I look at the cover and saw a mystery, a thriller, and a dark story that I couldn't wait to pick up. Then when I read the synopsis and Olivia Kiernan was compared to such amazing authors as Tana French and Gillian Flynn I knew that I would not be able to pass on this book.
diane92345 More than 1 year ago
Nothing is as it seems in the new top-notch thriller Too Close to Breathe by debut Irish novelist Olivia Kiernan. Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is back to work after being stabbed in the line of duty. Frankie is placed in charge of a large team looking into the death of Professor Eleanor Costello. One small forensic finding makes Eleanor’s hanging not a suicide but a murder. There are indications that Eleanor may have been a victim of physical abuse. Eleanor’s husband has also disappeared. As the body count rises, it appears that a serial killer is at large in Dublin. I won’t say more as the fun is trying to follow the twisty plot. Frankie’s PTSD is almost another character in Too Close to Breathe. The case against her assailant is going to trial soon. Frankie’s back story is slowly unveiled through flashbacks. Too Close to Breathe was a thrilling read until the last 15%. I wasn’t happy with the end. It didn’t necessarily play fair with the amateur detective reader. Or maybe I’m just upset because I didn’t guess who did it. It was also rather abrupt. There were also many coincidences toward the end. However, this book still deserves 4 stars for the innovative structure of a detective with PTSD and some of the other surprising aspects of the crime not often used in thrillers. I hope this is the start of a long and productive series. Thanks to the publisher, Dutton, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books ive read in awhile
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Frankie Sheehan is dealing with two complex murders as a detective in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes the public fails to understand or perceive the tremendous stresses that are a constant and pervasive part of the job. Frankie is well-respected but also has her colleagues worried about her present recovery and work on another case. The first one involves the murder of Tracy Ward, a case in which she was physically assaulted in a brutal way. Even now in the middle of her work, her own posttraumatic stress syndrome makes it hard to function, but Frankie is no wimp and forges on. She dreads having to testify against the accused killer but her passion for justice far exceeds her fears. The second and present case she is trying to solve with her colleagues involves a well-respected microbiologist scientist and professor, Eleanor Costello. At first it was believed she committed suicide. But clues appear that indicated murder was the truth and there is a further mystery with the mysterious disappearance of the victim’s husband. Add to the mix that this crime has something to do with the Dark Web of the Internet where people who enjoy violence with sex communicate with each other. Many of these scenarios go further than intended, eventually involving law and order forces. But a chemical will prove to be the weakness that the killer leaves behind and leads to an arrest. Is the trial of the first murder connected to the death of Eleanor Costello? Is Tracy in more danger than she realizes? As the person in charge of the investigation of both cases, how clear is Frankie’s thinking as her own traumatized psyche confuses issues. Olivia Kiernan has written a gripping, reality-based police mystery novel that will keep you flipping the pages, wondering if justice will be served or evaded. Nicely done, Olivia Kiernan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too Close To Breath is the first Frankie Sheehan detective novel. And I am glad for it. As we start this intricate and unpredictable procedural, Frankie is back on the job after recovering from injuries from a previous case. Her boss decides to give Frankie an easy case, an apparent suicide. But after the initial investigation, it is unclear if it is a suicide or homicide. There are many indications and clues that suggest homicide, such as a computer filled with links to unseemly web pages, a missing husband, and other anomalies. Soon another corpse is discovered, but is it a separate case or part of the first case? The author keeps us guessing and making assumptions about motive, means, and opportunity. All needed to solve this difficult and unpredictable case. The author creates a lot of suspense and intrigue, up until the denouement. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from this talented writer.
ZR1000 More than 1 year ago
An intriguing, ominous, police procedural… This is the first book in the Frankie Sheehan series that can be read as a stand-alone. This was an intriguing police procedural with a heroine returning to work after being harmed on the job, she’s just getting back into the groove with this new case, a suicide by looks of it but in actuality murder with the added enigmas of a missing husband, an art book that doesn’t seem to fit in, and a computer that connects to the Dark Web. Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is a damaged heroine, we see the psychological turmoil that she is still in after the trauma she suffered months before. She’s constantly questioning herself and that perhaps leads her to make mistakes she can’t abide to have. This detective, an experienced forensic scientist and profiler, isn’t one to give up until all the answers are found, such focus can be advantageous to bringing a killer to justice and decidedly dangerous to a person’s mental state and physical well-being. There’s an interesting twist when supposedly separate cases converge and this reader could not guess the perpetrator. As this is the first book in a series I do hope this character has learned the lesson she didn’t learn the first time, ALWAYS wait for her team. I was left with a question throughout the read. Don’t detectives in Ireland have guns? If Frankie had had one on her person like I would expect law enforcement officers to have she could have spared herself a lot of pain. The setting for this story is Dublin, Ireland, so there are phrases specific to that country’s colloquialism. This was not bad for a debut novel, the rather dark plot dangled intricately woven threads and the suspense as they slowly unraveled kept this reader turning the pages. I look forward to what this author comes up with next. An advanced reading copy was obtained from the publisher’s First to Read program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too Close To Breathe was a dark, intelligent novel following Frankie, a flawed and damaged protagonist, in her return to the police force after a near death experience. What should have been a cut-and-dry suicide to build her confidence and re-acclimate her to the world of homicide quickly became much more convoluted. Two things made this book stand out in my mind: the police procedure and the ease with which the author included sensitive subjects. First, the police procedure had exceptional details, making me feel as though I were involved in the case, breaking out the minute details, and searching for the culprit. Second, this story contained extremely dark matter that even veteran authors would be hesitant to tackle, but I believe that Kiernan did a superb job. First, she addressed how PTSD can leave a lasting impact on an individual when visible wounds have healed. Then, she dove into a world of BDSM and the dark web. It was creepy and at times difficult to read, but it made the story come to life. I did feel that this story was a bit slow paced at times and it took me a while to get into the story. Until approximately the 90 page mark, I was struggling to focus because I honestly found myself getting confused. Until the details of Frankie's history began to come out, it almost felt as though I missed something (like, "didn't read the first book of the series" missed), but as things began to come to light the story picked up, leading to a dramatic conclusion. Overall, this was an intelligent and darkly thrilling debut by Kiernan and I truly look forward to reading her future releases (and I'm really, really hoping that Goodreads is correct, saying that this is the first in a Frankie Sheehan series!). Thank you so much to Dutton Publicity for providing me with an copy in exchange for my honest opinions. It's an honor to share my personal thoughts. -Kaylie @ Shih Tzus and Book Reviews