This polished police procedural is the second outing for Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan and her team, the Bureau for Serious Crimes. With this series Kiernan is beginning to make her mark in the crowded field of Irish crime fiction. Her distinctive characters and meticulous plotting stand out. The Killer in Me is a gripping tale of revenge and murder set in modern day Dublin. Anyone who read Too Close to Breathe, the first novel in this series, witnessed Detective Frankie Sheehan almost come a cropper at the hands of a vicious and vengeful killer, it was a white-knuckle ride; nasty, explosive and very personal. The good news is that Frankie is a survivor. The Killer in Me opens with Frankie mostly recovered from her ordeal, she’s got a couple of successful cases under her belt, and, all-in-all, things aren’t bad now, but, of course, that never lasts.

Frankie is sceptical when her sister-in-law asks her to take a look at the case of Seán Hennessey, he’s spent fifteen years in gaol for murdering his parents and half-killing his sister when he was only fifteen years old. Tanya West believes there is evidence that he may be innocent, or at least a doubt over his conviction, she runs a charity called Justice Meets Justice dedicated to righting judicial miscarriages. A documentary on Hennessey is due to air claiming cross-contamination of blood evidence due to the actions of a paramedic at the crime scene. The support of a senior police officer for Seán Hennessey’s case would help get the matter taken seriously by the authorities. Naturally, the new Chief Constable doesn’t see it the same way, she has got wind of the documentary, a potential embarrassment for the police. Donna Hegarty wants Frankie to keep an eye on Tanya West and Hennessey, but the more Frankie finds out the less convinced she is that the initial inquiry was handled properly. That could set her on a collision course with her boss and friend, Jack Clancy.

Meanwhile, two bodies have been discovered at St. Catherine’s church in Clontarf. A half-naked woman with her throat cut, slain within the last few hours, and a man in priest’s garb, probably killed a few days before and hidden until this death scene was staged. The dead pair turn out to be a married, Geraldine and Alan Shine. From the outset there are some strange anomalies, the crime scene simply doesn’t add up. As Frankie investigates both cases, she begins to release that they are connected but how? Her biggest worry is that the killer may not be finished yet.

You get the sense reading The Killer in Me that Kiernan likes to research her books thoroughly, a lot of thought has gone into the police attitudes and practices, getting details right. Bearing in mind that this is fiction and the killings are out of the ordinary, this actually feels authentic. The police officers have an interesting working relationship and. although this is not a buddy cop story, it does feel like a real team at work. As for the bad guy/s, Kiernan does a good job of keeping them in plain sight and keeping their secrets hidden and there are a couple of twists along the way. The Dublin/Clontarf setting is subtlety pitched to add to the story but not weigh on it or slow it down. Too Close to Breathe let us in on a lot of Frankie’s backstory, so it would be good to take a look at the earlier novel if you can, however, The Killer in Me can be read as a standalone novel, no problem.

There’s a noirish tone to The Killer in Me, a glimpse of the underbelly of society and issues that fester under the surface, also, the stuff lurking in the darker recesses of the mind of a killer. If you want something a bit different but solidly within the framework of the police procedural, this entertaining page turner may be what you’re looking for.

Paul Burke 4/4

The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan
riverrun 9781787470019 hbk Apr 2019