This is the second novel in a series featuring Detective Constable Cat Kinsella, who, at 27, has been with the London Murder Investigation Team 4 (MIT4) for five years. As Cat explains about her job:
“Humanity is everywhere. It shows its face in the very best and the very worst of situations. It’s actually quite rare that the sinkhole opens up, sucking away everything that’s pure and light and hopeful in its wake. And when it does, that’s when the likes of Murder Investigation Team 4 come in.”
Cat and her partner DS Luigi Parnell are assigned to investigate the murder of a young woman, Naomi Lockhart, who was in London on a temporary work permit from Australia. Naomi was last seen at an office party at the home of her boss, Kirstie Connor.
Thus, to untangle this murder, Cat has to deal with The Family from Hell: Kirstie, her husband Marcus, her sister-in-law Rachel Madden, Rachel’s husband Joseph, and Clara Madden, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Rachel and Joseph; all were at the party. Each one of them outdoes the other not only as an unreliable narrator but as a generally all-around awful person.
The saving grace of this book is the Murder Squad, the members of whom we got to know in Frear’s earlier book. Cat is still suffused with shame over her behavior in the previous case: “Shame is buried so deep that eventually the false you becomes the real you and no one ever comes close to knowing who you really are.” To me, what Cat did doesn’t seem so outrageous, but it’s good to know some police operate on a strict moral code of what does and does not constitute professional behavior.
As for the rest of the team, the standouts are Cat’s partner, Luigi Parnell (he is like a father-figure to her and she calls him “Sarge”), and her DCI Kate Steele. Both of them are very likable, and add different outlooks to the mix of MIT4.
The many twists and turns of the plot had me guessing until the end, a feature I always appreciate since it takes a deft hand to construct. The author is touted as appealing to fans of Tana French, and indeed, she has something of French’s same style.
Evaluation: This book combines an absorbing and well-crafted police procedural with an even more interesting drama about family secrets and detective force interactions. The supportive relationships in Cat’s Murder Investigation Team keep them going in the face of the horrors they encounter on the job.
The range and depth of the character portrayals are impressive. Frear also adeptly creates an atmosphere and mood as palpably as a movie might do, so that you feel as if you are experiencing all that Cat does right along with her.
I am impressed with this author and look forward to more books from her.
Published in the U.S. by Harper, 2019