THROWBACK THURSDAY: STONE COLD HEART By Caz Frear (Zaffre, 2019)
I read Caz Frear’s enjoyable debut novel Sweet Little Lies (2017) a few months back and was so impressed that I hunted down her second novel, Stone Cold Heart, from earlier this year.
Stone Cold Heart is set almost an year after the Sweet Little Lies and finds Cat Kinsella, a twenty-seven-year-old police Detective Constable working on the London homicide squad, back on the job after a brief stint in the Mayor’s office. The fallout from that last case, however, is still reverberating. Her relations with her family are still messy, she is still hiding secrets from her boyfriend who she met on the case, she still has not told her work colleagues about her personal connections to the old case and she still has a lot on her conscious. It is almost a relief when she and her boss, DS Luigi Parnell, are called to the murder of a twenty-two-year-old Australian, Naomi Lockhart. Naomi had been working as a personal assistant at a London recruitment firm and had been at a party thrown by her boss, Kirstie Connor, just prior to her death. The detectives initially suspect Naomi’s dodgy flatmate, but they are soon forced to look elsewhere.
As Cat and Parnell investigate they discover some unexpected links between Naomi and Kirstie’s extended family, including her sleazy brother-in-law Joseph Madden, who is known to Cat. It soon becomes apparent that almost everyone in Kirstie’s family is lying and it is up to the detective duo to pick their way through the lies.
Stone Cold Heart is nicely paced police novel that smoothly moves through its various twists and turns to a satisfying conclusion. The story is entirely seen through Cat’s eyes and her amusing and sharp-eyed narration makes it easy to keep turning the pages. Frear has developed Cat well as a character and she is more credible and less annoying than in the first book. The secondary characters are also interesting and I particularly liked the interaction between Cat and her colleagues on the murder squad.
Stone Cold Heart lacks some of the suspense and pace of Sweet Little Lies, but I think it is a stronger book. The plot is well thought through, and although the ending is surprising, Frear lays the groundwork well and it does not come from left field, like the conclusion to Sweet Little Lies. Cat’s personal problems still add some tension to the story and I liked the nasty little twist at the end of the book.
In all, it is a very enjoyable crime novel that confirms Frear’s status as a rising star on the British crime scene. I look forward to her next novel.
Four stars out of five!
See my review of Sweet Little Lies at: