"Where There's Fire," Maureen McKade

Pros: Interestingly complex mystery that’ll keep you occupied; enjoyable characters
Cons: Shoni is a bit over-the-top as a loose cannon; some of the romantic pieces of writing feel more formulaic than others
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Detective Shoni Alexander lost her mother to a drunk driver, and thanks to an officer’s error, the driver got away with no consequences for his actions. Now she’s ready to throw away her career in order to get revenge.

Meanwhile, she’s been investigating an arson case that got bumped up to homicide when someone was found dead in one of the burned-out warehouses. When an amnesiac bum calling himself John McClane becomes her only witness to one of the arsons, she becomes determined to keep him safe and stick by him until the case is solved. However, she’s surprised to find that despite his appearance, despite his paranoid attitude, she wants to help him out—and so she goes out on a limb to protect him, and more, risking her career and her life.


 

The mystery of the torched warehouses in Maureen McKade’s Where There’s Fire has several interesting layers to it, and I enjoyed following along as the characters puzzled it out. There’s plenty of confusion and misdirection to keep things interesting.

The characters are fun; the side characters don’t have a huge amount of depth, but I’d say they amount to more archetype than stereotype. There’s plenty of action and tense scenes to keep things interesting.

My one real complaint was the romance. It wasn’t as though I couldn’t see these characters becoming interested in each other (although it happened a little suddenly); it’s more that whenever the romance came up, the writing became formulaic and expected. It felt like a paint-by-numbers in those areas, right down to the spots where the characters suddenly jump to conclusions and alienate each other. It also felt as though Shoni was so much of a loose cannon at times that I had difficulty believing that even her protective boss could keep her in the field.

Where There’s Fire is an enjoyable read, but it’s the sort of book I’d pick to pass the time on a bus or plane if I didn’t have a better option with me.

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