Today I’m on the Blog Tour for Caz Frear’s “Sweet Little Lies” – looking forward to reading it when I get a chance!
About the Book:
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.
I slip back into the station just before 1pm, the chill in my marrow fending off punch-drunk tiredness for the time being. Violent death makes restful sleep seem like a rather shallow privilege of the living anyway, and it’s not as if the Sandman and I are great pals at the best of times.
It occurs to me that I could ask Dr Allen for something. To date, I’ve generally relied on wine, weed and a whole tonne of emotional eating to numb me into eventual slumber but maybe a chemical crutch might be nice, although I’m not sure of the protocol.
Do you wait to be offered?
Does asking sound the ‘not-coping’ klaxon?
More importantly, do I even care?
Right this second, probably not. With Leamington Square and my encounter with Noel trawling up long-buried memories and black tarry thoughts, the idea of some state-sanctioned oblivion buoys me more than it should.
“DCI Steele?” Parnell’s just ahead of me, slumped against the front-desk, interrupting the Custody Sergeant’s flow as he checks the dietary needs of some goon in a ‘Gangzta’ hat about to be booked in.
The Sergeant glowers at Parnell. “Third floor. Door with the broken handle.”
In reality, we don’t need directions as the gravitational pull of an incident room is Herculean in strength. Stepping out onto the third floor, we instinctively turn left and follow the corridor to the end, straight and purposeful like darts, ignoring all the early-morning hustle and flow of a Central London station. From a few steps away, I clock Steele through the doorway looking sharp and match-fit, bouncing on her stockinged feet, all 5’3 of her – shoes indiscriminately discarded somewhere, no doubt. “I can’t think straight with sore feet.”
Prepping the incident board are man-mountain DS Pete Flowers and blade-thin DC Craig Cooke – aka The Feast and the Famine. Both are solid coppers, without question. Diligent types. Flowers could probably make Inspector if he wasn’t so charmless, while Craig’s a good guy to have around, a one-man-band of dad jokes and contagious optimism. I give a thumbs-up to Seth, still beavering away thanks to three cans of Red Bull and the lure of a gold star from Steele, and I smile vaguely at a stunning girl in a mustard duffle who I’ve worked with before – although when I say ‘worked with,’ I don’t mean in the Cagney-and-Lacey sense – just that we shared the same kettle, copped the same flak.
But I’d know that duffle coat anywhere.
Given my job, I should feel blessed to have a good memory for pointless prosaic detail. Truth is, it’s a more of a curse and it’s one of the reasons I find it hard to sleep. In a matter of seconds, my dead-of-night thoughts can sway from the consuming, feral agony of Mum’s final days to the saltiness of the pork at Jacqui’s wedding, while images as banal as driftwood and duffle coats rub shoulders with suspicions about my Dad that are so black and unmentionable that I have to keep them locked in a box at the centre of my frontal lobe.
In my mind, this box has always been purple. A deep Catholic purple with a heavy black lock. Despite the lock there’s no key to open the box, to do so would be catastrophic, but occasionally a thought seeps out through the tiny space where the base meets the lid. It’s already happened several times today.
“Righto folks, let’s make a start.” Steele hushes the room in two seconds flat. “Now contrary to popular belief, I’m not overly keen on the sound of my own voice so here’s the drill. I’ll go through the basics, answer any questions, get everyone up to speed, and then I’m throwing it out to the floor for a bit of audience participation, alright?”
A horseshoe of fresh-faced DCs sit up, synchronised in gutsy ambition. For a second I long to throw myself into the heart of their competitive clique. Leave Parnell to his quiz shows and arthritic knees. But it’s a quick spark of sentiment, gone before it can take root. I never seem to shine with people of my own age. I just never feel that relevant.
“So, quickly, let’s talk about me, shall we?” Steele hops onto a desk, shuffling to make herself comfortable. Her legs don’t quite touch the floor and and with her ditsy print dress and swaying feet, she looks like a child about to recite a nursery rhyme. “For those who don’t know, my name’s DCI Kate Steele and I’m the SIO leading this investigation. You can call me Boss, Guv, whatever you like. You can call me Kate if you sense I’m in a good mood, but you run that risk at your own peril, m’dears. Behind my back, you’ll no doubt call me Cardigan Kate, on account of the fact that my upper arms haven’t been seen since 1989 but that’s fine, I’m used to it. Christ knows, I’ve been called worse. Just don’t let me hear you or you’ll wish your mother had a headache the night you were conceived.”
A smile spreads across the faces of those who’ve worked with Steele before. We know this script verbatim
“Now, there’s a few of you I don’t know so if you have something to say, put your hand up and state your name. I probably won’t remember it but don’t take offence. It doesn’t mean you’re not a remarkable human being, it just means I’m a batty old woman who can’t remember where she parked the car half the time, never mind a load of new names every time I head up a case, so if you can just play along if I get your name half-right, I reckon we’ll all get along fine. Ok? Everyone happy?”
The horseshoe constricts, one or two allow themselves a cautious smile.
“Wonderful.” Steele turns to face the incident board. “So, victim’s name is Alice Lapaine. Thirty-five years old. A married, part-time pub chef from Thames Ditton in Surrey.”
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.