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The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan @LivKiernan @riverrunbooks @Millsreid11

April 2, 2019

Source: Review copy, Netgalley
Publication: 4TH April 2019 from riverrun
PP: 352
ISBN-13: 978-1787470019

Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan does not wish to linger on the grisly scene before her eyes. Two mutilated corpses. In a church. In Clontarf. Her profiling background screams one fact: this is just the beginning of a sickening message.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old case is playing out on a TV documentary, the convicted professing his innocence and historical police errors being exposed daily in the media. Frankie’s superior, commissioner Donna Hegarty, makes no bones about who she expects to clean things up – both in terms of past mishandlings and the present murders.

But not everyone working the cases wants the truth to come out. And the corridors of power have their own vested interest. Soon Frankie pinpoints just what is making her so nervous: the fact that anyone could be the next victim when justice is the killer.

The Killer In Me is a fast-paced thriller in which lies are safer than the truth, the past is never far from the present, and the ability to kill could well, it seems, live in everyone.

I really enjoyed Olivia Kiernan’s debut novel, Too Close to Breathe, so I was keen to read the second in her Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan police procedural series. This is a series where each book can comfortably be read as a stand-alone, with the constants being the characters in the Dublin based An Garda Síochána Bureau for Serious Crime, which Frankie heads.

From the outset of this case, Frankie’s profiling background tells her that the carefully staged murder of two people in a church is the work of someone who intends to kill again. Frankie has attended the murder scene direct from meeting with her sister in law, Tanya. Tanya runs a legal charity for the victims of miscarriages of justice and she has asked Frankie to review the files on the conviction of Seán Hennessy , then 15 years old, recently released from prison after serving 17 years for the murder of his parents and attempted murder of his sister.

We see everything from Frankie’s perspective and experience her fears and frustrations as the case develops, stalls and with the discovery of more bodies with the killer’s signature, and yet the list of suspects gets shorter though they are no nearer to solving the case. To add to Frankie’s troubles, the Police Commissioner is on her back, wanting the miscarriage of justice claims dispensed with and the current murders wrapped up.

There’s an intensity to Frankie’s work that means she eats, breathes and sleeps it, leaving little time for a personal life. Well plotted and layered with complexity Frankie’ viewpoint is interspersed with narrative from Sean Hennessy ‘s documented interviews on his recollections of the historical murders of his parents, claiming on his innocence.  

Beautifully atmospheric, this is a solid police procedural that feels authentic and has a level of detail that adds to the veracity of the story. Well-paced and intriguing, this is a nicely told story. The team are sufficiently different to be interesting characters in their own right and the team dynamic adds another fascinating layer to the tale.

.I really enjoyed it and would certainly read another, though I would say that Frankie herself remains a bit of an enigma. While we do learn something about her home life in The Killer In Me, we don’t learn much at all about Frankie’s inner, more personal thoughts. Though the relationships she has with her colleagues are well articulated, and Kiernan’s characters are very well drawn, it would be good to know a bit more about Frankie herself. I hope that we will learn more about what personal life she has, or has had, in future books.

Verdict: An atmospheric, authentic police procedural with loads of clever writing and plotting that is both propulsive and intriguing.

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Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer. In a previous life, she completed a diploma in anatomy and physiology then a BSc in Chiropractic before she succumbed to the creative itch and embarked on an MA in Creative writing. In 2015, she began writing Too Close to Breathe, a crime thriller that was published in 2018 and features Dublin detective, Frankie Sheehan. The second in the series, The Killer in Me is published April 2019.

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