Tuesday 14 January 2020

Firewatching by Russ Thomas BLOG TOUR @thevoiceofruss @simonschusterUK #Firewatching #RandomThingsTours

A body is found bricked into the walls of a house. From the state of the hands, it’s clear the dead man was buried alive. Soon, the victim is linked to an old missing person’s case and DS Adam Tyler is called.
As the sole representative of South Yorkshire's Cold Case Review Unit, Tyler recognises his role for what it is – a means of keeping him out of the way following an ‘incident’. When this case falls in his lap, he grabs the opportunity to fix his stagnating career.
And then Tyler discovers he has a connection to the case that hopelessly compromises him. He makes the snap decision not to tell his superiors, certain that he and only he can solve the crime. But now Tyler must move carefully to find out the truth, without destroying the case or himself.

Meanwhile, someone in the city knows exactly what happened to the body. Someone who is watching Adam closely. Someone with an unhealthy affinity with fire. . .

A taut investigative thriller bursting with character and tension, introducing an enigmatic, fresh lead detective unlike any you have met before – Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler - for fans of Adrian McKinty, Tana French, Steve Cavanagh and Sharon Bolton. 

Firewatching by Russ Thomas is published on 20 February by Simon and Schuster and is the author's debut novel. Thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. I am delighted to share my thoughts today for the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

I'd heard lots about this debut novel from the publisher.  It's certainly a book that I've been looking forward to reading.

I could just say 'read this book', or 'where on earth did Russ Thomas spring from' ... honestly, this is one hell of a debut; almost perfectly executed and incredibly clever. It's my kind of crime novel and ticks every single one of my boxes.

I do love a story that's set in a familiar location and this one takes place bang in the centre of Sheffield; a city that I visit frequently and is very dear to me. The locations, the dialect and the superbly crafted Northern grit that runs through it is so well done.

Lead character DS Adam Tyler works on the Cold Case Review Team for South Yorkshire police, well to be fair he is the review team. He's something of a loner and separates himself from his colleagues in the force. He sits behind a partition, but also has his own emotional barriers. As the reader learns a little more about him, we come to realise that his barriers are a form of self-preservation. He's often the victim of ridicule, and bullying and, as the scar on his face proves, he often has to protect himself from himself.  

The body of a man is discovered in a derelict house that's being demolished after a devastating fire. However, it's clear that this guy didn't die in the fire. Someone left this man to die, he was entombed behind a brick wall, built after he was dumped there. The evidence of his desperate struggle to survive, is there in the ragged fingernails on each hand.

Everyone knows who the dead man is, but there's little mourning done. Tyler is on the case, however he finds himself embroiled in this one far deeper than he'd imagined.

Russ Thomas writes with flair and such authenticity; his research into historical fires is impeccable and his use of blog posts to give the 'Firewatcher' a voice is a really nice touch which adds so much to the overall story line.

It's a complex and complicated plot at times and the reader does have to invest in this one. However, it's not a chore; it's the sort of book that I found every conceivable excuse to pick up, often finding it difficult to set it aside to eat, or to work. 

DS Tyler is excellently created and the supporting cast of characters are perfectly drawn too. Fairly often a lead character will overshadow the others, but this author has put just as much into all of them. From slightly odd Sally Ann and hard on the exterior DI Jim Doggett, to the apparently eccentric elderly pair of ladies Edna and Lily. Each and every one of them are lifelike and easy to believe in. 

Firewatching is smart, it's suspenseful yet considered. The plotting is so intricate and the pace is absolutely perfect. The author doesn't shy away from darker issues, including homophobia and sexual abuse; however he does it with a sensitive touch, adding depth to what is already a fine crime story. 

Highly recommended by me; Russ Thomas is an author to watch. This debut is brilliant and I'm ecstatic that he, and DS Tyler will return soon.

Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. He grew up in the
80s reading anything he could get from the library, writing stories, watching large amounts of television, playing videogames, and largely avoiding the great outdoors. He spent five years trying to master playing the electronic organ and another five trying to learn Spanish. It didn’t take him too long to realise that he’d be better off sticking to the writing.

After a few ‘proper’ jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day.

His debut novel Firewatching is the first book in the D/S Adam Tyler series.

Twitter : @thevoiceofruss
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram : @thevoiceofruss

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