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Rave Reviews: FOR I HAVE SINNED A Cate Harlow Private Investigation

Kristen Houghton’s For I Have Sinned is a standout. Not only is it a suspenseful mystery, but it delves into timely controversy of Catholic priests and the scandals throughout history. Houghton relates these true events into the lives of a fictional character, interweaving the two seamlessly.

Both shocking and exciting, For I Have Sinned is a real page-turner. The protagonist Cate Harlow is a sassy and likable private investigator who has two men in her life: the first is Giles, the medical examiner and the second is a cop who also happens to be her ex-husband Will. Needless to say, the divorce was very amicable, if you get my meaning. All of the Houghton’s characters are well-developed and the interchanges between the three make for a fun romp of a ride.

The plot begins when Marie hires Cate to investigate the disappearance of her brother Joshua. Cate starts doing her job only to discover that Josh may have run away on his own. She finds ominous drawings of stalking hyenas and begins to believe that Josh was running away not from his home, but from something else. What follows is shocking and in many ways sad, but always suspenseful.

Things heat up when Will phones Cate to see a crime scene in the middle of the night. Someone had murdered a priest, and there would be more murders to come.

While I could anticipate that the murders are somehow connected to Josh, Houghton nonetheless writes in a way that I could not stop reading. I wanted more. Houghton has the talent to suck the reader into her world and make the reader really care about the characters and root for them. The plot contains many exciting twists and turns and the end is satisfying.

Being familiar with Ms. Houghton, I was delighted to see a subtle sense of humor in her work. For example, when Cate is looking over the titles in a bookcase, she notices one called And Then I’ll Be Happy! which just so happens to be a previous book authored by Houghton.

All in all, For I Have Sinned is a very good book and a worthy addition to any mystery reader’s collection. The novel spans a few genres: it is definitely a mystery--but contains elements of suspense and the gruesomeness of the murders--that creep into horror. So whatever genre you prefer, this book is for you.


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


Fab New PI

Kristen Houghton proves there is room for one more tough, sexy PI with the introduction of Cate Harlow, who takes her place alongside PI Warshawski and Stephanie Plum.

Cate displays a soft heart for the downtrodden when takes the case of  a boy who has been missing for a decade. As she is delving into what happened to the boy, her ex husband, a homicide detective, calls her in the middle of the night to come to a crime scene. There she sees the mutilated body of another man, this one wearing a priest's collar, a lot of blood and nothing else.

The new murder is eerily similar to a case that Cate worked on and which was never solved, although the first body wasn't identified as a priest. She is troubled by the collar and a Latin message written inside. Cate and Will, the ex, combine with Cate's current boyfriend who is the medical examiner to figure out what happened.

The book is fast paced, well written and brings to light a delightful character in Cate Harlow and a wonderful contrasting pair of lovers. This first in a series promises hours of page-turning reading.

Elizabeth A. Ashton, book review, WriteHere WriteNow


Cate Harlow, a smart, witty and tough detective with a heart. She’s investigates the death of a pedophile priest, which has similarities of a previous unsolved case. And during all this, she has to deal with a rather annoying  ex-husband who enjoys pushing her buttons.

This is a fast paced, tightly written book with strong characters and you will become a big fan of Cate Harlow, with her dry humor and wit. She is intelligent and strong. She is a very relatable character on so many levels.

I reviewed this book by request of the Author.

I look forward to reading more from this author, and more of her Cate Harlow character!

January Gray, critic at The Book Review

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