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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Book Review: If Looks Could Kill by Olivia Kiernan

This is the third book in the Frankie Sheehan series, about a female senior Dublin police detective. Although I hadn’t read previous books in the series, I think this stands pretty well alone; Frankie is called to a small town outside Dublin to investigate the disappearance of Debbie Nugent, ordinarily not a case she would look into… except the sheer volume of blood found at the scene make it unlikely Debbie has survived.

As Frankie digs deeper into the case, uncovering inconsistencies in witness statements and discovering Debbie’s past may have influenced her fate, she begins to realise the case is far more than it appears on the surface. Organised crime figures may have had parts to play, and then it transpires that crooked cops are involved, covering up past secrets and current crimes they need to keep buried.

Anything with police protagonists is a tough sell at the moment, but this does it really well; Frankie plays by the rules. She never thinks wistfully that it would be so much easier if she was allowed to take shortcuts; she just does her job with excellent police work, and when it comes to light that fellow officers are crooked, she dedicates herself to cleaning up.

One thing I really liked about Frankie was her complete disinterest in romance. She starts off the book having a sexual encounter (off page) with another police officer she meets for the first time at a social event, and she is just utterly disinterested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him. It’s not even on her radar. And she’s completely unbothered about the fact that she’s single. She doesn’t regret it for a moment; she even mildly pities colleagues who are struggling to balance their work lives and personal relationships. It’s absolutely refreshing to read a female protagonist who is unashamed of their own sexuality and also not interested in romance - and a dead giveaway that this is by a female author. Male authors just don’t seem to be able to resist giving their female protagonists Complicated Feelings that honestly, some professional women actually don’t have. They choose their career and they’re not conflicted about it at all, and it was genuinely great to read that portrayed so well here.

The only issues I really had were with the pacing of the story; it starts off incredibly slowly and then sort of rushes to a conclusion, and there were a few threads which didn’t really seem to get tied off. With that said, I thought it was very well done as a police procedural, and I particularly liked Frankie as a protagonist. I’ll give it four stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.

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