book review: Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan

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TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE by Olivia Kiernan
★★★★☆
Dutton, April 3, 2018

Despite my love of thrillers, one subgenre that I tend to stay away from is the police procedural – I’m just not a big fan of storytelling that relies heavily on a set formula. But I decided to pick up Too Close to Breathe anyway, because you know me, I’ll read anything if it’s Irish.

And I mostly really enjoyed this. I think part of it is that it’s been so long since I read a police procedural that I was ready for a foray back into the genre. It’s still not my favorite type of thriller, and I probably won’t pick up another one any time soon, but I think I’ll check out the next book in Olivia Kiernan’s series whenever it’s published. The plotting in Too Close to Breathe was intricate, the subject matter was darker than dark but not particularly gratuitous, the characters were compelling, and the writing was mostly really solid (except for one dialogue which actually involved the line “Blah! I don’t go in for that kind of mumbo jumbo.” but I guess we can’t have everything). This book also made me really want a bonsai tree (or more accurately reawakened my desire to own a bonsai tree – this has been an ongoing Thing for me), so all in all I’d say it was a success.

I do have some qualms – I found that there were a couple of gargantuan leaps in logic, mostly involving the way the detectives profile the killer (at one point a man tries to stab a woman but she gets away, so they deduce from practically zero information that he’s probably married and that he has a fetish for mutilating women and since this attempt went awry he’ll most likely try again… what???), and certain details behind the legal proceedings were a little far fetched, but oh well, maybe I couldn’t entirely suspend my disbelief, but I don’t know, sometimes I find nitpicking to be so tedious. I raced through this book, especially the second half – it’s undeniably engaging and entertaining and that’s pretty much all I could ask for.

I also really loved Frankie’s character, which is the main reason I’m interested in continuing this series. I’m a huge fan of flawed female characters, and Frankie’s tragic backstory was less a tragic backstory than one traumatic event that happened a few months back, and I like that Too Close to Breathe begins when Frankie’s still in the middle of dealing with the aftermath. Overall, a promising start to what I hope ends up being an interesting series that will inevitably draw comparisons to Tana French – definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of the crime-thriller genre.

Thank you Penguin First to Read and Olivia Kiernan for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

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