Too Close to Breathe Cover


Frankie Sheehan #1

By: Olivia Kiernan

Published: April 3, 2018

Publisher: Dutton


3 stars


Eleanor Costello, a Type-A science professor has committed suicide by hanging. Her husband is nowhere to be found. Detective Frankie Sheehan doesn’t buy it and decides to check out the autopsy report. This is her first case back on the job after a murderer got a little too close for comfort and nearly ended her life as well as the victim’s. That case is ready to go to trial all while Frankie is trying to ease her way back into the daily tasks of solving cases. Then, there is another murder, then a body is found, then another woman goes missing. Frankie is desperately trying to connect all the dots and may just have found a clue that connects all these cases together, but can she figure out who the killer is before there is another murder.

Kiernan’s debut novel set in Ireland offers readers a look into the forensics and research side of handling a murder case. From the officers that search the scene of the crime to the ones back at the office that take apart computer and phone files, there are a lot of people involved in working just one murder case. Frankie’s job is to coordinate all of that without spending too much of the department’s money and yet stay one step ahead of the killer. Through interviews and evidence the reader sees the cases unfold and tries to guess the killer while being pulled in a new direction with a new suspect. The actual killer isn’t revealed until the final twelve pages and I would expect that most readers wouldn’t have guessed who the killer was. With the killer revealed so close to the end of the book, there isn’t much left for a wrap up to the story. But the author suggests there is more to come from Detective Frankie Sheehan so we may get more to the story in the next book.

Since the novel is set in Ireland, some of the terms are unknown but are easy to figure out from the context.  I have to admit, this storyline was a bit dark and gruesome for me. Even though the subject matter of murder is clear, the type of murder and lifestyle that the characters participated in wasn’t exactly something I enjoyed reading about. I admit to skimming a few parts of the book to just merely get through it, not wanting to read the details.  There were a few loose-ends and details not cleared up, but maybe that was intentional, as in real-life we don’t always get the full story. What I appreciated was that we were getting the details along with Detective Sheehan. There were no surprises or secrets that were just for the reader. We followed alongside the detective the whole way.

Fans of high-profile murder novels or those with twisted storylines will find Kiernan’s novel a fast-paced thrill ride. Kiernan writes a well-researched thriller that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Being able to walk through the case along with the main character allows the reader the chance to be a voyeuristic observer behind the solving of a crime.  Will you solve it before Detective Sheehan does?


Olivia Kiernan

Olivia Kiernan – source

Olivia Kiernan grew up in the Irish countryside, a background which left her with a great appreciation of storytelling. Being almost sensible she shelved aspirations of becoming a writer and embarked on a career in science, spending six years in university studying anatomy and physiology before receiving a BSc in Chiropractic in 2003. She worked in this vein for over a decade, always writing in the evenings after work and completing an MA in Creative Writing through part-time study in 2012.

In 2015, she began writing TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE as part of National Novel Writing Month, polishing off half the first draft by the end of the month-long writing marathon. After hiding the manuscript on her hard drive for close to a year, revisiting it from time to time to add a scene or remove one, she sent it out to agents. Within a month she had signed with a literary agent and in 2017 a dream was realised when TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE sold. For more, check out her website, HERE.


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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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