Stone Cold Heart: A Novel by Caz Frear (Harper, $26.99, 328 pages)
Detective Constable Cat Kinsella stars in this, the second British police procedural mystery from author Caz Frear. For many readers it’s the second novel that’s the true test of a writer’s skill. Rest assured readers of this genre – fans of writers such as Peter Robinson, Jane Casey, and Peter James – I could go on. Ms. Frear has another success in Stone Cold Heart. After reading this novel, I’m looking forward to reading the first in the series, Sweet Little Lies.
Predictably, the opening page features a stream of consciousness statement from an unknown person. The requisite references to killing and death are assurances that this read will not be tame or boring. DC Kinsella begins her narrative in August 2017 with a rather ordinary trip to a coffee shop. Well, the coffee is not ordinary nor is the barista.
Fast forward to November of the same year, a Tuesday to be specific. We’re introduced to Luigi Parnell, Kinsella’s partner, as well as their boss, Detective Inspector Kate Steele. Murder Investigation Team 4, as they are called, is considering a scene with a 22-year-old murder victim, Naomi Lockhart. Kinsella’s remembrance of past visits to this neighborhood is a head’s up to the reader that there will be a blend of her past and the present. She encounters many triggers to her memory during the tale.
Author Frear provides the usual banter among the members of the MIT4. Moreover, throughout the book she takes time to thoughtfully describe the various aspects of each scene and the thoughts and actions of her characters. Perhaps it is the cinematic feel of her writing that sets these characters and their profession apart from an ordinary British police mystery. In fact, the DC Kinsella novels are now being made into a television series.
The underlying issues that move the story forward are trust and truth. As one would expect, the tale is advanced as MIT4 searches for the answer to the age old question, who done it?
The book is highly recommended for mystery/thriller readers and especially those who are dedicated readers of British police procedurals featuring a female detective as the main character.
Stone Cold Heart was published on July 2, 2019. A review copy was received from the publisher.