Book Review – January 2022 – A Slow Fire Burning – Paula Hawkins

So, the follow-up to the deservedly massive The Girl On The Train and Into The Water…how is it? Bloody brilliant, if you’ll excuse my language! It’s not such a straightforward whodunit as her debut – it’s a slower, character-driven book portraying a small community around the Regent’s Canal area of London.

But I’m assuming it’s still crime fiction…

It is indeed, and is about the murder of a young man whose body is found on a houseboat on the Regent’s Canal. His name is Daniel, and during the course of the book we are introduced to a community of people who all know – or know of – most of the others in one way or another, even if it’s just by sight. The girl he slept with, the woman in the next houseboat, his aunt, his uncle, his recently deceased mother’s neighbour – they all inhabit this book, and are exceptionally well-drawn characters. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, and the reveal at the end of the book almost comes as a disappointment, as you’ve enjoyed getting to know the characters so well!

What about the police officers? Sounds like they take second place in this one…

They rather do – it’s not that they aren’t interesting in their own right, but you get the impression they’re there mainly to move along the story of the residents who live around this stretch of the Regent’s Canal, and who, by coincidence, have lives that intertwine in one way or another. It’s a really effective whodunit, and will only increase Hawkins’ reputation as a writer of many talents – originality being one of the most striking ones.

Don’t miss this one!

With thanks to Alison Barrow and all at Doubleday Publishing for the ARC.

BLURB: What is wrong with you?’

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.