For I Have Sinned (Houghton)

For I Have Sinned (A Cate Harlow Private Investigation)
Kristen Houghton, 2014
Koehler Books
253 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781940192710

Private investigator Cate Harlow finds herself involved in two cases that seemingly have nothing to do with each other; she soon discovers they may be bizarrely connected.

While working the cold case of a boy who went missing ten years ago, she receives an early morning call from her ex-husband, a homicide detective, informing her about a recent murder; the horribly mutilated body of a priest, wearing only a clerical collar has just been found off of Interstate 95 in New York.

The murder is eerily similar to a troublesome and unsolved case that Cate worked on less than a year ago. The only difference between the two victims is that the second dead body has a hand-written message in Latin scrawled across the inside of the priestly collar; a message from Dante's Divine Comedy, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." With the priests’ murders heavily on her mind, Cate's investigation into the missing boy leads her to the august office of a New Jersey archbishop who, she strongly believes, has been hiding pedophile priests for years by transferring them from one parish to another.

When Cate discovers that there may be a solid connection between the priest murders and the missing person cold case, she puts her own life on the line to not only solve her cold case but bring a pedophile to justice. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—July 12, 1967
Where—Carmel, California, USA
Education—M.A., Middlebury College
Currently—lives in New York, New York

Visit the author's website.
Follow Kristen on Facebook.

Book Reviews
A masterfully woven story about the horrors of the sex abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church and the impact on both victims and their families. Private investigator Cate Harlow handles the case of a missing boy, a murderer, and a pedophile priest with a perfect combination of hard-nosed detective skills, gut instinct, wry humor, and compassion. A very satisfying read by Kristen Houghton. This is a fascinatingly crafted story that is a true page turner.
Greg Archer - Huffington Post

Private Investigator Cate Harlow makes her literary debut and rocks the reading world with her style, intelligence, sex appeal, and passion for solving a murder case on her own terms. For I Have Sinned (A Cate Harlow Private Investigation) is the first of a series which showcases this phenomenal female private investigator created by the brilliant writer, also phenomenal female, Kristen Houghton. If you enjoy a good read, ...prepare yourself for a GREAT read. This is sure to hit the best-seller lists!
A. William Hopper, book critic

A perfectly wonderful book by Kristen Houghton. What appears to be crimes of revenge are interwoven with the cold case of a boy who has been missing for ten years. This book was hard to put down. As the clues are slowly revealed, the true story of an unthinkable crime that was committed begins to come to light. The main character of Cate Harlow, PI, of Cate Harlow Private Investigations, captured, and held my interest from beginning to end. Cate tells her clients, "I'm very good at what I do," and she is!
Melissa Ford - Morris Post Book Review

This book makes a powerful statement about the horrifying issue of child sexual abuse by clergy.  A master observer of people and life... Kristen Houghton's book  is a must read thriller for all.
Maria Rago, Ph.D., author of Shut Up Skinny Bitches!

A missing person cold case, a murdered priest; How are they connected? Private investigator Cate Harlow is determined to find out. This book gave me everything that a reader wants in a thriller and introduced me to characters I want to see again and again in future books in the series.
Marla Rosenthal, Sacramento Book Reviewer

Cate Harlow is a gem! A self-aware woman in touch with her own needs and feelings, who can both take it and dish it out. Her sensitivity is leavened with an intelligent, level-headed approach to getting the job done with or without a gun. She is a model for other woman as she weaves her way through a tough, well-plotted story with delicacy and aplomb, somehow managing to solve the mystery and juggle steamy romance at the same time. Her author is a sharp storyteller on a mission to bring the bad guys to justice.
Marilyn Horowitz, author of The Book Of Zev

How would you feel if you were the victim of clerical abuse as a child? For I Have Sinned will rocket you through this world, with Cate Harlow leading the charge. While trying to solve the mystery of a decade old missing child case, Cate also becomes tangentially involved with the gruesome murder of two priests. Little does she know that she too will become a kidnapping victim as she interjects herself into solving the mystery of the murdered priests. Houghton is a master at weaving these two stories into a tale about the disturbing world of child abuse by those who should be the most trusted. Put that together with the ever-charming character of Cate Harlow, and the result is a read you don’t want to overlook.
Darin Gibby, author of The Vintage Club

Discussion Questions
1. What were your initial feelings when reading the book; how did the story affect you?

  • Did the flashback scene engage you? Did the short dialogues at the end of specific chapters add to the story as a whole?
  • How did you feel about the subject matter and how it was handled?

2. Describe the main character—personality, her feelings about being a private detective, her ideas on life. What do you think of  her wry sense of humor and showing of some vulnerability? Does this make her a relatable character? Describe the other characters in the story. How do they help the storyline move along?

  • What are the dynamics between Cate, Will, and Giles?
  • Cate believes in the law but says that she sometimes does things in a "slightly illegal" way? Do you approve of this?
  • Describe Cate's conflicted feelings about taking on a cold case. Why does she decide to help her client locate her brother?
  • How does the prim and proper Myrtle Goldberg Tuttle, Cate's part-time secretary balance Cate add to the story?
  • Cate's best friend, Melissa, Cate's "source of much-needed girl power," lives well and has some very wealthy male clients. Do you approve or disapprove of Melissa's somewhat shady profession?
  • How does Cate's kindness to a homeless man living near her office and the "weekly twenty" plus food she gives him define her character?  

3. What do you learn about Cate Harlow by the end of  the book? How does the cold case and its resolution affect Cate?

4. Is the plot engaging—does the story interest you? Is this a plot-driven book: a fast-paced page-turner? Or does the story unfold slowly with a focus on character development? Were you surprised by the plot's twists and turns?

5. Talk about the book's structure. Is it a continuous story...or interlocking short stories? Does the time-line move forward chronologically...or back and forth between past and present? Does the author use a single viewpoint ? Why do you think the author chose to tell the story the way she did—and did it make a difference in the way you read or understood it?

6. What main ideas—themes—does the author explore? (Consider the title, often a clue to a theme.) How does the use of three Latin phrases Cate translates add to the story?

7. Cate's comment, "When you get to Hell, I'll be sitting in the hot tub waiting," is a strong comment on her attitude towards religion and states the book's thematic concern. She also tell her clients, "Trust me, I'm very good at what I do." What do the two comments tell you about Cate Harlow? What passages strike you as insightful?

8. Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not...and how would you change it?

9. If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? Have you read other books by the same author? If so how does this book compare. If not, does this book inspire you to read others?

10. Has this novel changed you—broadened your perspective? Have you learned something new or been exposed to different ideas about people and how their religious beliefs and fears affect their lives?
(Questions courtesy of the author.)

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