Tuesday 7 September 2021

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins BLOG TOUR #ASlowFireBurning @DoubledayUK @RandomTTours #PaulaHawkins #BookReview


Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She's seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn't mean she's a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins was published in hardback on 31 August 2021 by Doubleday. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

I am a huge fan of Paula Hawkins' previous novel 'Into The Water', and A Slow Fire Burning was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. 

I read this one in one huge gulp, quite a few months ago and loved every single complex character. I recently re-read it in order to prepare my review and the second read was just as satisfying as the first, I discovered little nuances that I missed at the first read. 

It's a crime novel, there's a murder at the heart of it, but as in her previous novels, Paula Hawkin has created such an intense character-led story, populated with (mainly) women who are often obnoxious, very very troubled and an utter delight to discover.

The body of Daniel Sutherland is discovered on a canal-boat on London's Regent Canal. The discovery is made by Miriam; a middle-aged woman who also lives on the canal. Miriam can be a devious woman, she's something of a busy-body. She keeps a record of local goings-on in a little black book, she also has a box of trinkets; items that she has collected, things that didn't belong to her, but have great importance to various events in her life. Miriam holds grudges, she's ill tempered and angry and she is determined that Daniel's murder could bring a satisfying closure to a long-held grudge that she's held against his uncle; well-known local author Theo Myserson. 

'Mad Laura' is another well-known figure locally. A woman who is damaged, both physically and mentally and who is no stranger to trouble. It just so happens that Laura spent the night with Daniel, and she has the bloody scars to prove it. 

This is a novel that challenges the reader; both in structure and in the number of characters involved in the story. I personally love a challenge, and each character is so well developed in their own right, and linked to one another so well that it was really no hardship at all to get engrossed in this tale. 

It is the female characters who steal the show, as well as Laura and Miriam,  there's Daniel's Aunt Carla; a woman who has spent the last fifteen years struggling with loss. We have Irene, an elderly woman who lives in the house next door to the now deceased Angela; Daniels' drunken mother. Irene is a woman who people dismiss; she's old and inconsequential, but her wisdom and perception steals the story on many occasions. 

This is a powerful, gripping novel that deals with the effects of grief and betrayal. The long-term effects of tragic incidents in the past shape the future of the characters and lead the story. The death of a small child, the abduction and murder of a young girl and  hit-and-run accident that sent shockwaves through a family are all welded together to form the basis, and the motives for the current crime. 

This is masterful writing, narrated by characters who cannot be trusted, and who don't even trust themselves.  If you love an unreliable narrator, you are in for a treat, because we have five of them here!

This is a dark novel, but there are flashes of very welcome humour, especially from Laura, who I have to admit is my favourite character; and, I suspect the favourite of the author too. 

Well worth the wait, A Slow Fire Burning is a devilishly clever story, skilfully and thoughtfully written that kept me guessing to the end. Highly recommended. 

PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. 
Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. Her first thriller, The Girl on the Train, has been a global phenomenon, selling 23 million copies worldwide. Published in over forty languages, it has been a No.1 bestseller around the world and was a No.1 box office hit film starring Emily Blunt.
Into the Water, her second stand-alone thriller, has also been a global No.1 bestseller, spending twenty weeks in the Sunday Times hardback fiction Top 10 bestseller list, and six weeks at No.1.

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