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Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 10/20/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Catherine McKenzie returns following Hidden with SMOKE — a town in the Rockies, raged by fire and destruction; and the burning secrets and lies, of its characters’ personal lives igniting; losing control at the same time.
A fast-spreading ground fire has ignited at the edge of the Cooper Basin in Nelson County. Housing structures and lives are threatened. Temporary shelters, school suspensions, warnings, and evacuations.
No stranger to fires, Elizabeth Martin (Beth), has worked with wild land fires for ten years, since she was twenty-six years old. She worked her way up to arson investigator for the regional fire district. She had to go where she was needed. As her husband, Ben would say, “anywhere, but here, with him”.
She had trained, studied and gotten strong, and was ready to go where the fires were. She had spent a great deal of time away from Ben. After ten years, she felt as if she had spent most of her life waiting. Waiting to get back to him. Waiting to start a family they had always wanted. A job she loved and a marriage. Her life was about waiting for something.
Just as waiting for a fire to spark. From the first bolt of lightning or careless cigarette to set off a telltale white plume above the horizon. She traded it, for a quieter life with her husband Ben, and now they were getting a divorce- after ten years of marriage and six years of dating. What did they have left?
She has to go back to Nelson where she has a feeling things will get worse before they get better. She has to help, since she cannot seem to control her own personal life.
There is Mindy, another family. The two women met years ago in a Welcome to the Nelson Group, at 26 and 32. However, both different personalities-- Mindy was afraid of her own shadow; whereas Beth got a thrill from running into deadly situations. They were both new, yet felt like outsiders in the town. Their husbands fit perfectly into the town as a pair of comfortable slippers. Whereas the two of them, had trouble making new friends.
They had something to learn from one another at the time, and despite their differences, they had gotten pretty close. However life moved on and Mindy had her family to care for, and her desperate attempts at having a family. She had loved Ben, wanted to be a mom, but loved what she did. When Beth could not seem to get pregnant, but having her best friend around with the perfect family, was torture. Ugly things were said and disagreements--they went their separate ways. Beth feels her old life has followed her.
44 yr. old Mindy is married to Peter with, two children; 16-yr old son, Angus, and 14 yr. old daughter, Carrie. Busy with things of life and kids, and not a lot of time for herself. She puts her efforts into trying help out in the community with the devastation. Attempting to be the perfect wife on the exterior. She had never thought of herself as one of those stay at home moms. After layouts and budget cuts, she found herself helicoptering over her kids, as if her constant attention could keep them safe.
As the fires rage out of control, there is suspicions as to arson. Fingers are pointed. Accidents. Juvenile Offenders. Coverups. Secrets. Lies. Consequences. Reactions. Simmering. Who is the source? Then comes more secrets. Pictures. Blackmail. A Girlfriend, and a parent’s worst nightmare, suspicions, guilt or innocence? Everything has consequences.
While people are losing their homes and lives, their personal lives are like a raging fire destroying relationships, families, friendships, and marriages. Over the course of six days, Elizabeth is there to help protect the town, while helping with the investigation. Plus attempting to re-kindle her relationship with her husband. and her former best friend.
There are many suspects, from John Phillips, a widow who has lost his foreclosed home to the blaze, Tucker a high school student, Angus, Mindy’s teenage son, and Tucker’s classmate, and a girlfriend.
Catherine delivers a creative, yet complex suspenseful tale of relationships and friendships filled with stunning metaphors, with both positive and negative connotations. From the "burning" strong desire for motherhood, careers, and family; as well as the "ignited" enthusiasm for a successful marriage. On the other hand; there is the destruction and devastation. The igniting of fire to destroy, the entrapment, and the spark which combusts, left smoldering ---ruining lives, homes, and communities. Will this town and the lives find hope after the devastation?
SMOKE explores tragedy and conflict, extreme situations, with strong emotional dynamics, trust, and bonds which tie…. With smoldering tension, and rising temperatures—suspense from the first page to the last, with characters you will come to care for—her best book, yet!