BOOK REVIEW: Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan

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This is Olivia Kiernan’s debut crime novel and I found her writing style very pleasant and easy to read. The introduction to the plot was interesting…..

A young woman Dr Estelle Costello, a University Lecturer is found dead at her home. Initially it looks to be suicide, by hanging; however Frankie Sheehan – Detective Chief Superintendent on her return to work, very quickly finds evidence to suggest a more sinister twist. Estelle’s husband has mysteriously disappeared and both he and Estelle’s work colleague are either witnesses or suspects. As the crimes continue the Dark Web has a role to play! WHO IS THE KILLER?

As the plot unravels, other bodies are found. Are these connected, if so how? Do the police have a serial killer to find and catch? Frankie and her team are under pressure to find the criminals but she has her own demons to contend with, which she buries deep inside to be able to investigate the murder.

I enjoyed this debut novel by Olivia Kiernan, it took me a while to realise this was based in and around Dublin, Ireland but that only made it more interesting. I appreciated how well Kiernan portrays Frankie – the protagonist. She is a tough modern policewoman, returning to work after being attacked, she is vulnerable with her own demons but has to find her inner strength to lead her team and catch a killer.

This crime thriller was gripping from the start but also very easy reading. I was able to put it down and come back to it. I thought the characters, were all relevant to the novel, although Baz and the others in the crime team could have been developed further with more complexity and depth. I thought that using the Dark Web as a back story was clever and kept the ‘traditional’ crime thriller contemporary and modern.

I absolutely loved the penultimate chapters and thought the ending was surprising and ingenious, a book that all crime readers would enjoy and I would definitely recommendation this for a book club read as I think it would create many discussion points.

Too Close To Breathe is published by Riverrun and is available here.


Olivia Kiernan


Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK. She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex. Too Close to Breathe is her first novel.

Reviewed by Amanda Brightman

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