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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

Overall rating

4.8 out of 5
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  • I was kept on my toes and on edge throughout

    If there ever was a book to get under my skin, it is this one. The book begins five years before the main plot with a construction site for fancy new apartments on fire. Numerous fire engines attended the scene. The building was supposed to be empty but then someone is seen waving from a top window. A team of fire officers enters the building to rescue the person but something happens within that fire and soon after they all quit the service and vow never to speak to one another again. Five years later one of the ex-firemen has just gotten married when he is set alight in the hotel toilets where his reception is. The other ex-fire officers are worried it has some to do with their decision five years ago and they should be as another of them is soon found dead, again burned alive. DI Alex Finn asks to be assigned to the case as he wants to return to work. His wife has just died of a brain tumour and he is on leave, stuck at home not knowing what to do with himself. He is partnered with new DC Mattie Paulsen as his boss seems to think Alex will be a good teacher. The synopsis had me hooked and a desire to know more and so I couldn’t wait to get started. I was a little disappointed with the first chapter titled ‘Five Years Ago’ as I was expecting a little more information regarding the fire and the unsuccessful rescue but I soon left that feeling behind once the book began, although I’m not sure how I felt with the back and forth in time throughout, I’m more of a chronological time reader, but then again I’m not sure the book would work set in this way. Some of the scenes were gruesome but the plot is certainly gripping. I enjoyed the relationship between DI Finn who was trying his hardest not to let his grief overtake him and keep himself professional and DC Paulsen who was trying to deal with her past problems and sometimes had outbursts. It was fascinating to watch the pair trying to piece the evidence together and to try to work out who the killer was and why they were obviously looking for revenge. I can honestly say this is a book that kept me guessing. I was trying to figure out what these five officers could have done and why with such long service behind them did they do what they did. It takes a lot to surprise me, but this book certainly did just that, a good feat for a debut novelist. Having been kept on my toes and on edge throughout I now can’t wait to hear more from author Will Shindler and his detectives.

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  • A great start to a series

    I often mention in my reviews that Crime Thrillers are a very over-saturated genre. It seems every 5 minutes there’s a release of ‘the first book in the series of DI OldSchool GrizzleMan and his partner DC Woman WithIssues’. As much as I love the genre it does get a bit waring sometimes but every now and again I find a series I genuinely want to read more of that makes a competent and great start at pulling me in. The Burning Man is a great example of this and manages to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that other books I have read recently have fallen headfirst into. The first pitfall is usually the crime itself that the book is a primary focus on. Some series I have read try too hard to establish their main characters in the first book and as such forgo an actual interesting plot. In The Burning Man however, the crime itself is quite gruesome and there’s a good pacey investigation that keeps you guessing all the way through. There aren’t too many names and characters to get straight in your head either which can be difficult at the start of a series when the author is trying to introduce the police force as well as the victims and suspects. I guessed the twist a little earlier than the reveal but I hadn’t seen it coming from miles away either. The plot was well constructed and kept enough cards close to its chest to keep its reader’s interest high. My only annoyance was that there is a bit of a spoiler on the front cover of the book! The second potential pitfall is the main characters, they can be too stereotypical and I have seen first books in a series give far too much away to the point where I lose interest in picking up the next book. Although The Burning Men does have the stereotypical male, old, grumpy DI taking a broken and yet intriguing woman under his wing, it didn’t feel too overdone here. Finn is just getting over the death of his wife so we get a lot of personal information but we also get to see some of his vulnerabilities as well. There’s a lot of talk of him only firing at 80% and it’ll be really interesting to see him later on in the series when he is back to full strength. We really got a feeling of character development with him but without giving too much away about the rest of his character. DC Paulsen is a different kettle of fish and I didn’t perhaps like her as much as I had hoped. I did like the fact that her previous issues with another unit was kept from the reader until right near the end – although perhaps I would have left it to explore more in later books which would have hooked the reader in. She didn’t really feel as interesting a character as I would have liked – lots of characters seemed to have opinions that there was something different about her but I didn’t really see it, personally. The third pitfall is giving the series somewhere to progress – just enjoying the crime or the characters isn’t always a guarantee that a reader will invest in future books. The Burning Men does well here in that although the crime itself is solved and the book could easily be read as standalone, there is a bit of a cliffhanger twist reveal at the end of the book and more questions to be asked. It’s certainly inspired me to keep looking out for the next installment of the series. Overall, The Burning Men is a well-constructed start to an interesting crime thriller series – I’m looking forward to the next one! Thank you to NetGalley & Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  • A good read

    A different kind of story, plenty of twists and turns. Looking forward to the author's next book, which comes out next year.

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