Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Flame Out By M.P. Cooley

Flame Out by M. P. Cooley was published on May 19, 2015, by William Morrow in Hardcover. It is the second in a series that takes place in the small town of Hopewell Falls, NY. I read the synopsis of this book and it appealed to me on several levels. I was intrigued by the female police officer, whose father was also a cop. I find that this kind of following in the footsteps to be not only true to life, but very interesting. I also know that small, rural towns in America hide the best secrets, so I just had to read it. I didn’t read the first book in the series, Ice Shear, but did not feel like I had missed s single thing, or jumped into a story half told. This story was self-contained enough to stand in its own, but connected enough to make me go out and find Ice Shear, and also put the next in the series on my watch list.

June Lyons is out on patrol one evening, just checking on the town and its sleeping inhabitants. She comes across a fire in an abandoned factory and rescues a woman who was inside and badly burned. The woman is unidentified and in a coma, and June must try and figure out not only who she is, but why she was there.

The follow-up investigation from the fire uncovers a second woman, one whose body is found in a sealed barrel. Remembering back to her father’s time on the force, June is convinced that the body is Luisa Lawler, a woman whose husband was imprisoned for her death. June’s father was the investigating officer, and even though the body was never found, he got a conviction. June truly believes she’s found Luisa’s body, but the evidence eventually shows that it isn’t Luisa in the barrel. June begins to doubt the investigation all those years ago, her father’s work as a police officer, and the conviction of Bernie Lawler, Luisa’s husband, for the crime.

The characters in this book fascinated me. They had layers and layers to peel away, and many dimensions to delve into. Their actions and motivations set the series of events in motion that gave rise to the plot, yet until you got into their heads, you didn’t know the whys or hows. Once you do, it is as surprising and satisfying as any well told story.

Hopewell Falls (which I believe is a fictional town) is in upstate New York, and was the perfect place for the setting of this book. The townspeople had such a history and involvement with each other, that you never felt like you were seeing everything behind their actions. A big city doesn’t give you the same kind of interactions, history, and prejudices. As June investigated to peel back the layers, so did the reader. The conclusion was surprising and I enjoyed trying to piece together the clues.

The book was provided to Mystery Playground by the Publisher. The review is fair and independent.

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