Smokey the Cat
Caz Frear

Sixty seconds with Caz Frear...

Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about. Sweet Little Lies is her first novel.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Frear: Flame-haired warrior princess for an hour a week - procrastinator in sweat pants the rest of the time.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Frear: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Frear: It changed all the time. Optician (I can’t remember why!), vet, sweet shop owner, lawyer. I ended up working in fashion then banking so I’ve always been quite fickle when it comes to jobs (apart from writing!)

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September 15 2018

Belinda Bauer's SNAP has been attracting a lot of attention recently, even appearing on the Booker Prize longlist, unusual for a book published as crime fiction. Barbara Fister reviews it this week and reports that it has its weaknesses as a mystery but remains a worthwhile read all the same. Caz Frear's SWEET LITTLE LIES also has had a lot of buzz, this time as a debut. It's now being released in the US and I enjoyed the freshness of the narrative voice and its very contemporary quality.

All good things must come to an end, sorry to say, and so we must bid goodbye to Jimmy Perez of Ann Cleeves' Shetland series. WILD FIRE is the eighth and last episode and Jim Napier says it compares very well to its predecessors, being dark, disturbing, and immensely rewarding.

Bell Elkins, protagonist of Julia Keller's series set in West Virginia, is no longer a prosecutor or even a lawyer, but an ex-convict. Nevertheless she is still committed to combatting the opioid epidemic raging in hardscrabble Appalachian towns. Barbara Fister says that while Keller is unsparing in her depiction of the effect of drugs on small towns, she is also able to reveal the softer, more hopeful sides of her characters.

There's a curious theme linking a number of the books on offer this week. Whether it's a trend or an accident, I can't say, but broken families and how to repair them are on a lot of minds. First, there's CLAIRE'S LAST SECRET, by Marty Ambrose, a return to the famous summer of 1816 that produced, among other things, Frankenstein. This deals with Claire Clairmont, Mary Shelley's step-sister and Lord Byron's lover, who bore his daughter, whom she believed to have died when she was five. Now in her 70s, she is told that Allegra lived and she sets off on a quest to find her. Rebecca Nesvet thinks this a legitimate premise worth exploring both in this debut and in the series that is promised.

The mother in Karin Slaughter's PIECES OF HER has a past which her daughter is startled to learn. Ruth Castleberry says that this is a well-done suspense novel with a controlled pace that will keep the reader engaged. Sarah Pinborough's CROSS HER HEART also has a mother keeping secrets from her daughter. Diana Borse reports that despite a denouement that is a bit of a stretch, this is a successful suspense thriller that hits most of the high notes.

At least these mothers know where their daughters are (most of the time). But what of those whose daughters disappeared, kidnapped or worse? Elisabeth Norebäck's TELL ME YOU'RE MINE tells the story of Stella, a psychotherapist whose daughter was kidnapped twenty years ago. Now Stella believes that a new patient is indeed her missing daughter. Susan Hoover says that this debut is unforgettable and brilliantly constructed. The dilemma in Rea Frey's NOT HER DAUGHTER also concerns kidnapping, but this time the question involves whether the kidnapper was right in taking off with what she believes is a neglected child and, even more disturbing, whether the actual mother really wants the girl back. While Keshena Hanson found some plot elements convenient rather convincing, she thought the book on the whole was both addictive and thrilling.

Set in New England, Edwin Hill's LITTLE COMFORT is the first in a new series starring Hester Thursby, librarian and part-time investigator. Here she's hired to find a missing pair of young men who seem to have gone voluntarily absent. Although the book seems to have all the trappings of a cosy, female sleuth, Basset hound, kittens, etc., Meredith Frazier reports that it is very dark indeed. It is also, she says, "page-turningly thrilling and psychologically introspective, often at the same moment."

The family in OUR HOUSE, by Louise Candlish, may or may not be reparable, but at the moment they are trying to work out the elements of a separation. Then someone else moves into the family home and the husband and children have disappeared. Caryn St Clair says that although this twisty tale is occasionally difficult to follow, it is nevertheless engaging and full of the unexpected.

BLUE NIGHT, by German author Simone Buchholz, is set in Hamburg, an uncommon venue for crime fiction. PJ Coldren remarks that the author fully delivers a city that tourists are not likely to see in this gritty police procedural. Gunnar Staalesen has been writing his series about private investigator Varg Veum for a very long time. BIG SISTER deals with a missing godchild and a broken family with a dark secret in its past. Anne Corey says that the reader will be drawn into the characters and the complexities of their lives, including Varg Veum himself.

Rik Shepherd returns this week with a report on an entry in the British Library Crime Classic series, BATS IN THE BELFRY, by E.C.R. Lorac, originally published in 1937. Rik says these novels are all worth reading as they depict the past not retrospectively but as the writers actually experienced it. James Lovegrove visits the past from the perspective of today in his Sherlock Holmes series, of which THE DEVIL'S DUST is the latest. Rebecca Nesvet recommends this series, not just as homage to Sherlock but as a way of questioning the story worlds that Doyle and his contemporaries built and the narratives that they serve.

Caz Frear pays us a visit in our Sixty Seconds With...feature, which you'll find over to your left.

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW have much to say about what's happening in UK crime. You should take a look.

We'll be back at the end of the month with more reports on what we've been reading. Please come back and join us. And if you have anything on your mind you'd like to share with us, just drop us an email. We'd love to read it.



P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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