By Kate E. Stephenson
In this first week of July 2013, I hereby call to order the 23rd meeting of Kate’s Book Club. Every week, we shall be reading a tome either (a) penned by an author named Kate or (b) that includes a character named Kate. If you missed our last meeting, feel free to get caught up.
This week we review Kate Watterson’s latest book Charred, the second novel and the third story in her Detective Ellie McIntosh suspense series.
It is totally appropriate that we feature Charred today on July 3, as that’s exactly where the story begins. And the story is a perfect settle-down-after-the-fireworks book. The heat of this page-turner will leave you feeling singed around the edges in the way that only a good thriller can. The story here is textured, multi-layered and delicious. More than a character study of a villain, Charred is an exploration of relationships, the lengths people will go to survive the unsurvivable. And it will keep you wondering, what is going on until the last few pages.
So to give you a basic rundown we go to the official back blurb:
It’s the hottest summer on record.
The streets are shimmering, walking outside is like walking into a furnace, and yet, someone is still setting fires.
Milwaukee homicide detective Ellie MacIntosh is called to an arson scene and finds bewildered home owners, an unidentified corpse, and cryptic clues. Is it a random killing? The ritualistic nature of the crime points to no, and Ellie fears that the already-oppressive summer is just starting to heat up.
Ellie doesn’t like her obnoxious new partner, Jason Santiago—and he doesn’t like her. Yet when she becomes convinced that their investigation is tied to a cold case, Jason finds himself grudgingly starting to agree. It might be hot as hell outside, but the details of the brutal homicide chill him to the bone….
As fires rage and the body count rises, Ellie and Jason must put their personal disagreements aside to catch a ruthless killer. The heat is on.
Okay, you get the picture. Two detectives who don’t get along, one homicidal maniac with a penchant for flames, during the hottest heatwave on record. Without a doubt sparks will fly. And do they! I picked up this book, and didn’t set it down until I had read it end to end. I was fascinated by Ellie, interested in Jason, and caught up in the firebug killer. This isn’t so much a book of sensation, there is no dogged pace here that keeps you panting at the edge of your seat. Rather there is a consistent simmer of intensity, a slow to boil story line that captivates you from the very first page where you enter the killers mind and access a hidden darkness to which you might uncomfortably relate. It’s the flame that dances in front of your eyes, tempting you to touch. You simply can’t look away. Continue reading