book review: The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan


THE KILLER IN ME by Olivia Kiernan
(Frankie Sheehan #2)
Dutton, April 2, 2019
(Too Close To Breathe)


Every time I’ve read a thriller recently I’ve been left with the thought ‘do I actually like thrillers or am I just reading these out of habit.’ Well, it turns out I do still like them! I just wish they were all on Olivia Kiernan’s level – her Frankie Sheehan series is shaping up to be one of my favorites… which is odd as I really dislike police procedurals most of the time. So more power to Kiernan for being able to hook me on a formula that I’m not wild about.

And while I enjoyed Kiernan’s debut, Too Close to Breathe, I think its sequel The Killer in Me is superior in just about every way. More intricate plotting, more sophisticated writing, and more of that ‘can’t put it down’ factor. So while it’s always fun to go into a sequel being familiar with the characters, you could easily read The Killer in Me as a standalone. There are five murders at the heart of this novel, though two took place 17 years ago, as Seán Hennessey has just been released from prison where he served a sentence for murdering his parents, though he continues to profess his innocence. But when a series of eerily similar murders begins to occur, naturally Seán is the number one suspect. It’s a great premise, and Kiernan manages to expertly balance her various subplots so that it’s difficult to predict exactly what it’s all building up to.

Incidentally, I did have the exact same complaint about The Killer in Me as I did about Too Close to Breathe, which is that Frankie tends to make leaps the size of the Grand Canyon while doing a psychological profile on the killer(s), which invariably turn out to be accurate. So that’s a bit annoying, but you can’t have everything. All things considered, I think Olivia Kiernan is a brilliant new voice in the Irish crime genre, and if you like your thrillers on the dark and psychologically distressing side, you won’t want to miss this series.

Thanks so much to Dutton for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

You can pick up copies of Too Close to Breathe and The Killer In Me over on Book Depository.


book review: Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan


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.