I was delighted to be invited on this blog tour for The Richard & Judy This Morning Winner in the Search for the Bestseller Competition
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.
For fans of Erin Kelly and Belinda Bauer, Sweet Little Lies is a suspenseful page-turner from a talented new voice.
I am delighted to share with you Caz Frear’s Top 5 Books that inspired her :
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn (2006)
Gone Girl gets the glory and Dark Places also got the Hollywood treatment, but I absolutely love Gillian’s Flynn’s first novel about a crime journalist returning to her home-town, and her hugely dysfunctional family, to report on the recent murder of two young girls. It is as bleak as they come – acidic, utterly twisted and so, so atmospheric – but the one thing that cuts through the bleakness is the wry humour of the main protagonist, Camille, and even though she has numerous demons that she struggles to contain, she still comes across as a good person – witty, caring and unique. Whether I knew it or not, I think this is what I was trying to do with Cat Kinsella in Sweet Little Lies.
What Was Lost – Catherine O Flynn (2007)
I adore this novel and I’m always recommending it. There’s such a down-to-earth quality to the writing that makes it truly heart-warming even though it’s a desperately sad story. What Was Lost won the First Novel Award at the 2007 Costa Book Awards. It tells the story of a little girl who vanishes from a shopping centre in 1984 and the people who try to find out what happened years later. The thing that really stood out was the voice of the child narrator, Kate Meaney, who ‘sets up’ a detective agency (with her toy monkey as sidekick!) and spends her days snooping around the shopping centre, trying to spot criminal behaviour, until one day she disappears. Kate’s voice is just perfect. It can be so hard to get child narrators right – they either come across as too cutesy or wise-above-their years but Catherine O Flynn totally nails it. Kate Meaney is bright, tenacious, funny but also naïve and I definitely thought of her a lot as I was writing 8 year old Cat Kinsella.
The novel was famously rejected by numerous agents, then publishers, before it found a home with a small publishing house (and then the rest is history). This kind of success story is a real inspiration when you’re battling periods of self-doubt as a writer (about 90% of the time!)
The Red Dahlia – Lynda La Plante (2005)
I absolutely love Lynda La Plante and I’ve read everything she’s ever written, but for me, The Red Dahlia provides THE masterclass in police procedural writing. She somehow manages to blend complete realism with first-class entertainment and this something I really aspire to. The Red Dahlia details the horrific murders of several young women, and their similarities to The Black Dahlia murders of the 1940s, but the solid realism applied to the unfolding investigation (the steady tempo) really balances out the sensational nature of the storyline and La Plante shows that you don’t have to have a cliff-hanger every few pages to grip the reader by the throat – you just need to pose constant questions, drop subtle hints and really feel the detective’s frustrations. I return to it time and time again, almost as a text-book, to make sure that my balance of procedural realism vs good old-fashioned entertainment is more or less in line with the master (or the mistress, I should say!)
In The Woods – Tana French (2007)
I feel like I never stop waxing lyrical about this book – the prose, the characterisation, the subplot (if indeed it can be called that) literally blew me away. In the Woods certainly influenced Sweet Little Lies in the sense that in the character of Rob Ryan, you have a detective covering up his personal link to a crime (albeit as a victim) and in Cassie Maddox, you have a young, whip-smart, witty sidekick who balances out Rob’s character perfectly. In some ways I think Cat Kinsella is a kind of blend of the two – Rob’s dark side combined with Cassie’s lighter approach to life (although that’s not to suggest that Cassie is without depth).
In the Woods also taught me that not every question has to be answered within a crime novel, at least not in an overt way, as it can be just as effective to leave the reader to interpret things the way they want to – I won’t say too much more for fear of giving something away! This is definitely something I looked to do with Sweet Little Lies though – while the solving of the murder is all tied-up and neatly packaged (I hope!), Cat’s relationship with her father is left up in the air, her attitude to her career has slightly changed…or has it?
Aftermath – Peter Robinson (2001)
This is such an utterly engrossing story, if somewhat disturbing. There isn’t one particular character or theme or plot-strand that I would say directly led to the writing of Sweet Little Lies, but it’s a book that has never really left my head, hence it’s inclusion here. It certainly taught me about the power of the first chapter (I was literally open-mouthed!) and it taught me that you don’t need to shy away from the full horror of certain subjects as long as it’s handled tenderly and thoroughly (rather than quickly, just for pure shock value). The whole whole book is just a massive inspiration – a reminder to be really ambitious in your plotting. To take the story to it’s most daring edges.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.
When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.