Sweet Little Lies
By Caz Frear
Harper, $26.99, hardcover, available Tuesday, August 14
British literary star Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel.
After Frear fulfilled her first dream, she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later and saw her writing dream come true. She has a degree in History and Politics, which she has put to great use over the years while working as a waitress, a shop assistant, a retail merchandiser, and for the past twelve years, a headhunter. When she's not thinking of what to write about, she can be found watching her beloved Arsenal soccer matches or holding court in the pub.
Cat Kinsella is a protagonist that readers will find themselves rooting for, as she is a completely flawed heroine with a gritty, funny, empathetic voice.
Cat is a young Detective Constable in the London Police Department who discovers that the murder case she is working on in Islington may be linked to the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl fro her childhood, Maryanne Doyle. Cat's father has denied knowing anything about Maryanne, but she has always wondered about that.
There are dark and ugly secrets in Cat's father's past that have kept their relationship at am arm's length for years.
Frear writes in Cat's voice about her father, "At ten p.m. every evening, as punctual as a Swiss clock, Dad would excuse himself from whatever barroom brawl he'd been refereeing and walk the few hundred yards up to Leamington Square Gardens to smoke his solitary cigarette of the day. Whether he was dodging Mum - and evangelical ex-smoker - or whether he did it for reasons of solitude and sanity, I never really knew, but I'd watch him most nights from my window, quickly throwing down whatever book I'd been reading by the light of my Glo Worm as soon as I heard his steps crunching across the gravel. Eventually he'd become just a dot in the distance, a flash of a phone or the flare of a lighter, but I felt comforted by it somehow. Happy that he had five minutes' peace.
"He took me with him once. I was only six. Mum was at Auntie Carmel's so Dad warned me it was a 'special treat' which generally meant 'secret,' along with everything else that happened when Dad was left in charge (crisps for dinner, a very loose diktat on brushing teeth, and illegal poker nights in the back room with the men Mum didn't like). It was the first time I'd been to the gardens at night - I'd been there often during the day, playing shops in the bandstand, hopscotch on the path - and after we'd been there awhile and we'd chatted about Toy Story and my new puffer jacket, Dad asked me if I was frightened being out so late. He said most kids my age would crap themselves and start bawling to go home.
"I told him I wasn't scared of anything when he was with me and he'd ruffled my curls and said that was right.
"Tonight I feel scared though, and even with Parnell at my side, as solid as the plane trees that line the perimeter of Leamington Square, I can't seem to shake the feeling that no good will come of being back here.
"Not quite a sense of doom, but one of nagging disquiet.
"As soon as we're parked up by the outer cordon, I walk over to Parnell's side and let his genial grumpiness soothe me.
"'Forty lousy minutes and it'd been changeover. Some other sod's problem, and a hot shower and a cuddle with the wife for me. Jinxed we are, Kinsella, bloody jinxed.'
"'Doesn't bother me,' I lie. 'No one to cuddle up to or switch the hot water on. Might as well be freezing my arse off with you.'
"If I say this enough times, I might convince myself. Then I might also be able to convince myself to tell Parnell and Steele that I grew up less than a football pitch away from here. That my dad runs a pub so close you can hear the jukebox on a warm summer's day when the main doors are open. That I lived above the pub until I was eight years old.
"Before everything changed."
Caz Frear's original voice and expert plotting will grip readers from the very first page anticipating the next move of the relatable heroine Cat Kinsella.
This is the first of a two-book series that Harper Collins has with Frear. Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey, has optioned the TV rights to the book.
You can find her on Twitter at @CazziF.
Caz Frear In Conversation with Alafair Burke, author of The Wife
Tuesday, September 11 at 6:30 pm
Mysterious Bookshop (58 Warren Street, New York, NY 10007, (212)587-1011)