Frantic was published in Australia in 2007 and has since been released in multiple countries and languages. It won the 2008 Sisters in Crime Davitt award and was longlisted for the Ned Kelly award.
As Katherine's first novel, Frantic holds a special place in her heart. She says, 'For years I worked on crime novels with various main characters – a forensic science student, police officers, villains. Nothing quite worked. I’d had writing teachers suggest I use my ambulance experience in my work but for so long I couldn’t get a handle on how to do this: I either went overboard with the technical details of how an emergency is run, or my emotions from whatever cases I’d recently attended would overflow into the narrative.
'It was also difficult to figure out how a crime story (which it seemed I was addicted to writing, as I could not produce anything else no matter how hard I tried) could convincingly carry a paramedic as its main character – particularly when I wanted to write a series. A crime-solving paramedic? Pshaw!
'Then I hit upon the idea of having two central characters, one a paramedic, the other a police detective. The main effect of the story would be on the paramedic, with the detective working the case that had embroiled her, and the two of them clashing over what they each wanted. This also enabled me to bring in the real-life detail of the ambulance life that I knew so well, as that was what my paramedic was experiencing, rather than focus only on solving the crime.
'That was the birth of Detective Ella Marconi. While each book also focuses on a paramedic or two (generally new to the stories, although sometimes characters from previous books reappear), Ella is the star--the heart--of the series.
'Between all the planning and developing plus the redrafting to build suspense, this book took probably six years of hard work to finish. But it was well worthwhile, not only in those moments when I first held the printed book in my hands and saw it on shop shelves, but also for all it taught me, which I'm now able to apply in the books that follow it in the series.'
"action plotted as tight as a tourniquet" Sun-Herald
"Frantic is a ripper of a yarn, told with verve and feeling for the characters and place. Howell is a natural storyteller" Courier-Mail
“a fast-paced compelling mystery … a great read” Better Read Than Dead
“an outstanding thriller … Katherine Howell is a name to watch out for” Crimedownunder.com
“a fast-paced and involving read . . . a real page-turner that will certainly appeal to fans of medical-based crime thrillers” Bookseller and Publisher
"a confident, well-explored and satisfying novel" Good Reading
"In an assured debut Howell has created two sympathetic female characters and lives up to her title with plenty of lively action" Telegraph (UK)
“an adrenaline rush of a thriller … I can’t wait for more” Sydney Morning Herald