Thursday, 6 July 2017

Sweet Little Lies - Caz Frears

What happens when the trust has gone?

Cat Kinsella was always a daddy's girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.

When Maryanne later disappears and Cat's father denies ever knowing her, Cat's relationship with him is changed forever.

Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman's body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat's father runs.

When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat's fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find. 

What do you do if you think your father may have murdered a seventeen-year-old girl? For Cat Kinsella, the answer is to cut herself off from her family and join the police force. 

At the tender age of eight Cat is on holiday with her family in Ireland when a local girl goes missing. Convinced her father had something to do with the disappearance she tries her best to destroy her relationship with him.  Eighteen years later though, a body turns up in London a stone's throw away from the pub Cat and her family lived in. The body is initially identified as Alice Lapaine but after appeals to the public it becomes apparent that it is actually Maryanne Doyle, the girl who vanished. Just how did she end up in London and where has she been all this time?

Cat, part of the team investigating the murder, knows she should come clean about knowing the victim but desperately wants to know if her father is capable of murder or if maybe she has misjudged him all these years. Still reeling from her involvement in a previous case Cat's boss wants her involvement to be minimal but naturally she ends up in the thick of it, risking her relationship with her sister who won't hear a bad word about their father.

For a debut novel, Sweet Little Lies is superb. The story is told both in the present in London and in Ireland eighteen years ago. The difference between the two Cats is considerable, whilst the younger Cat is confident, outgoing and safe in her relationship with her father, adult Cat is rather bitter, secretive and struggling with the fact that she may have got everything wrong. Not wanting to admit this she plunges deeper into the case, risking her career for wanting to prove a point.

Cats Frears has written a fantastic first novel, the writing kept me hooked from start to finish and unable to put the book down until I'd read the last word. The majority of the plot takes place either in the police station or with her colleagues, apart from the chapters involving her family (their Christmas celebration was spot on for a family who obviously don't get on very well) but this adds to the story. It was great to see the connections between Cat and her fellow officers, especially Steele, her boss who was taking an greater interest in Cat's mental health than she would have liked, and Parnell, an older male officer who was the acting boss on the case as well. Given her troubles with her father it was interesting to see her closeness with Parnell, the almost father-daughter relationship they were developing.

The best thing about Sweet Little Lies though? The plot. I had no idea where the story was going or who the guilty party was or what the reason for the murder was. You think you've worked it out and then the story zoomed in another direction. Was it the husband who had no idea who she really was? Was it the 'moron' brother who has grown up to be anything but moronic? Is it connected to Ireland or has Maryanne somehow managed to get involved in something completely unconnected, something that got her killed? All I can say is you probably won't work it out, not until the last few pages when you'll suddenly realize what's going on and want to know how did you miss the clues pointing to the culprit? It's something that Parnell himself was trying to work out when someone's identity was revealed so you won't be alone!

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel, it's easy to see how it won the Search For A Bestseller competition and I really hope this isn't the last we're going to see of Cat and Parnell as I loved getting to know them. If you like police procedural stories with a twist then Sweet Little Lies is worth a read.

Huge thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of Sweet Little Lies.

Sweet Little Lies - Caz Frears
ISBN - 9781785763359
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre
Release date - June 29th, 2017

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