Serial killer Christopher Masters terrorized London in 2012 with a string of abductions and murders. His final victim, Holly Kemp, was never found, but eyewitness testimony placed her in connection with Masters. Six years later, Holly’s body is discovered near Cambridge. It should be easy work for Detective Constable Cat Kinsella and her partner to tie up this loose end and close the case once and for all. From this simple premise, the artfully paced Shed No Tears merely follows the clues, and things go from surprising to shocking.
Readers familiar with Caz Frear’s series know that Cat Kinsella comes from a family involved with organized crime. Her significant relationships are held together with a complex web of lies, so even the true-to-life scenes of normal work camaraderie are shot through with tension. Frear adds a layer of complication by introducing a Detective Chief Inspector who worked the original Masters case and takes a interest in Cat’s career trajectory. Cat wants to please her new mentor, but her dogged commitment seems to be having the opposite effect. Frear affords real respect to the dull, often repetitive nature of investigation, so each revelation feels earned and adds to the suspense.
It’s possible to read this book without having read the rest of the series, but you’ll just end up wanting to start from the beginning because these characters are a pleasure to discover; even incidental roles are fleshed out enough to feel real. Cat works hard to undo some of her family legacy but keeps making choices that tie her ever more firmly to her past. That combination allows her to empathize with victims and the accused alike, which is a real asset on the job. It forces her to keep an open mind, even to unsettling possibilities. (It also helps that she can ask her father about doings in the criminal underworld—not that she’s guaranteed a straight answer.) The story follows her calm, methodical approach, and Frear’s tight control of the reins keeps the tension high. Shed No Tears grabs the reader and doesn’t let go.