In March 2016, the couple behind Britain’s biggest Book Club, Richard and Judy, launched the search for a Bestseller competition, offering a two-book world rights publishing contract with Bonnier Zaffre, representation from literary agency Furniss Lawton, and the book will be stocked in WH Smith stores across the country.
And the well deserved winner was Caz Frear with her debut novel Sweet Little Lies and today I’m delighted to be a stop on the blog tour with my review and an extract from the novel.
What happens when the trust has gone?
Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.
When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.
Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.
When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find.
Published June 29th by Bonnier Zaffre and available to purchase at amazon.co.uk
When I first read the back of the book I was intrigued and really looking forward to reading Sweet Little Lies. I’d planned on reading a few chapters one evening before bed, what I didn’t expect was to still be awake at 2am still reading. This is one of those books where you say “just one more chapter”.
8 year old Cat is on holiday with her family when Maryanne Doyle goes missing, disappearing after seemingly going out for a can of hairspray. When the police come round asking questions and Cat’s Dad lies, the bond between Cat and her Dad is ruined.
Skip forward 18 years and Cat is now working as a Detective Contestable with the Met, called in to investigate the murder of a woman who’s body has been dumped not far from her Dads pub Cat has to try and find out what happened to this woman while also facing her past when secrets and lies surface once again.
Cat Kinsella is a great character, she’s flawed but full of determination. Having been referred to a therapist after having a big wobble at a crime scene it’s clear that there’s more than just this that is bothering Cat and slowly through out the book we find out her story. Told in the first person Cat’s personality real comes through and you really can’t help but like her and want the best for her even when you know that the decisions she is making may be a bit risky.
Caz Frear has written a fantastic debut, the plot was excellent and I really didn’t see where it was going and was shocked at where it ended up. I’m not going to give any spoilers away but I will say it’s full of secrets, lies and revelations. Sweet Little Lies will take you on a journey and spit you out at the end, leaving you wanting more and I really hope we will get to read more about Cat Kinsella in the future. I think this would make a brilliant series.
Now if my review hasn’t tempted you to go buy this book then here’s a little extract to whet your appetite.
It was 31st May 1998 and we’d been kicking around Mulderrin for well over a week. I was eight years old, podgy, with a head full of greasy curls and a mouth full of wobbly teeth, and I was almost certainly wearing my Pokemon t-shirt. Back home in London, my friends were getting ready to go back to school after the half-term holiday but Dad had just announced, between mouthfuls of toast, that we had ‘special dispensation’ to stay on at Gran’s for another week, earning him a high-five from my big sister Jacqui and a slap across the face from Mum.
Trying to diffuse a tension I didn’t understand, I looked up from my Pop Tarts. “Mum, what does ‘dispensation’ mean?”
Mum rolled her sleeves up like a yobbo about to start a pub fight. “Look it up in the dictionary, sweetheart. You’ll find it near ‘dishonest’ and ‘disgrace.’”
Jacqui stretched across the table for a yoghurt, her tangled blonde hair shielding her cocksure grin. “It means Dad told the school to go fuck themselves.”
Mum eyeballed Dad like a piece of rotten meat.
Dad, not Jacqui.
But then everything was Dad’s fault. Jacqui’s gob. Noel’s grades. My podginess. Even the good stuff, like the presents that kept appearing at the foot of our beds, and the new hi-fi – a real top-of-the-range one, according to Dad – ended up being tarnished by the stain of Mum’s disapproval. Even this trip to see Gran, the first holiday we’d had in three years;
“Call this a break?” she’d said, as we’d queued for the boat at Holyhead. “It’s just cooking and cleaning in a different house. A house that doesn’t have a dryer or a decent hoover.”
Weighing up the scene before me like the shrewd little politician I’d learned to be, I stuffed a Pop Tart into the band of my leggings and made myself scarce, figuring it was only a matter of time before the spotlight shifted and I’d be switched from passive observer to sitting target. When Mum was like that it was always a fine line to tread.
Other things I remember.
I ate malt loaf for lunch that day. Four fat wedges slathered thick with real butter. Gran loved to watch people eat, always complaining that the only person who ever called to the house was that scrawny one from the Department of Social Protection and you’d be all day trying to get her to eat a biscuit. “Not like you,” she’d say, cheer-leading me through a plate of ham sandwiches that you wouldn’t give to a wrestler, “Now you wouldn’t get blown down in a strong wind, my Catrina.”
Later, because I’d behaved at Mass (and I hadn’t told Mum about the stop at the phone box on the way back from Mass), Dad gave me £2 to spend at Riley’s on stickers and sweets.
It was also the day that Geri left the Spice Girls.
With grandparents and family pets still alive and kicking at this point, Geri’s departure was the first sense of loss I’d experienced in my eight short years. The first stab of betrayal. It was Jacqui who broke the story – a fantastic coup for an English girl abroad – and I can still see her now, hurtling towards me across Duffy’s field, her voice breathless with scandal, completely betraying the cool-as-ice image she’d been emulating since meeting Maryanne Doyle earlier in the week.
“Can you believe it, the bitch! The fat ginger Judas. So much for friendship never ends! Are you ok, little one? “
I wailed into her armpit with all the power and persistence of a colicky baby.
“There’s a helpline you can ring.” Jacqui said, hugging me in the way that only big sisters can, smothering me in a cloud of menthol cigarettes and CK One. “I’ll walk you to the phone box later, if you like. Or I think I saw that Maryanne girl with a mobile? She might lend it to us in exchange for something. Do you still have that £2?”
I didn’t have the £2, and I didn’t have any stickers or sugary things to show for it either. No sooner was it in my hand than Noel, my older brother and monumental shitbag, had snatched it away, warning me I wouldn’t see my ninth birthday if I even thought of grassing him up. While I was fairly sure he wouldn’t harm me – he was way too scared of Dad for a start- the mere threat of Noel’s presence with his red sniffy nose and jagged dirty nails was enough to render me silenced and frankly, most days I wished he was dead.
So what with Mum slapping Dad, Geri turning traitor and Noel stealing my hush money, May 31st 1998 hadn’t exactly been a great day for me. In fact, I wrote in my diary that it was the ‘Worst Day Ever in the Entire History of the Whole World Ever’. Even worse than the day I’d been sick on the escalators in Brent Cross and Noel told everyone I had AIDS.
It was so bad I hadn’t even noticed Maryanne was missing.