**Go, Olivia Kiernan! It’s your pub day!**
In a quiet Dublin suburb, within her pristine home, Eleanor Costello is found hanging from a rope.
Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan would be more than happy to declare it a suicide. Four months ago, Frankie’s pursuit of a killer almost ended her life and she isn’t keen on investigating another homicide. But the autopsy reveals poorly healed bones and old stab wounds, absent from medical records. A new cut is carefully, deliberately covered in paint. Eleanor’s husband, Peter, is unreachable, missing. A search of the couple’s home reveals only two signs of personality: a much-loved book on art and a laptop with access to the Dark Web.
With the suspect pool growing, the carefully crafted profile of the victim crumbling with each new lead, and mysterious calls to Frankie’s phone implying that the killer is closer than anyone would like, all Frankie knows is that Eleanor guarded her secrets as closely in life as she does in death.
As the investigation grows more challenging, Frankie can’t help but feel that something doesn’t fit. And when another woman is found murdered, the same paint on her corpse, Frankie knows that unraveling Eleanor’s life is the only way to find the murderer before he claims another victim . . . or finishes the fate Frankie only just managed to escape.
This was a dark, intelligent novel following Frankie, a flawed, damaged protagonist, in her return to the police force after a near death experience. What should have been a cut-and-dry suicide to build her confidence and reaclimate her to the world of homicide quickly became much more convoluted. The details of the police procedure made me feel as though I were involved in the case, breaking out the minute details, searching for the culprit.
This story contained extremely dark matter that even veteran authors would be hesitant to tackle, but I believe that Kiernan did a superb job. First, she addressed how PTSD can leave a lasting impact on an individual when visible wounds have healed. Then, she dove into a world of BDSM and the dark web. I grew up in a small Southern town (read: lived a super sheltered life), so the mentioning of a “dark web” absolutely blew my mind—and had me googling to see if it actually existed! Does it exist? Let’s just say my brief search said I didn’t have the capabilities for accessing it, I took that as a sign and stopped immediately after. Some things just aren’t worth pursuing for the sake of art *shivers*.
I did feel that this story was a bit slow paced at times and it took me a while to get into the story. Until approximately the 90 page mark, I was struggling to focus because I honestly found myself getting confused. Until the details of Frankie’s history began to come out, it almost felt as though I missed something (like, “didn’t read the first book of the series” missed), but as things began to come to light the story picked up, leading to a dramatic conclusion.
Overall, this was an intelligent and darkly thrilling debut by Kiernan and I truly look forward to reading her future releases (and I’m really, really hoping that Goodreads is correct, saying that this is the first in a Frankie Sheehan series!). Thank you so much to Dutton Publicity for providing me with an copy in exchange for my honest opinions. It’s an honor to share my personal thoughts.