I’m usually a fan of Catherine McKenzie’s work, but try as I might, I just could not get into this book. The subject matter is a bit more sombre than what my previous McKenzie reads — a wildfire threatens a small community, and the story focuses on two women who live in that town. Elizabeth is an arson investigator who has been tasked with finding out how this fire started, and her ex-friend Mindy is drawn to help a man who has lost his home to the fire. The man also happens to be Elizabeth’s chief suspect, and the story presents a mixture of mystery as to how the fire started, and the various domestic dramas of Elizabeth and Mindy’s families and their community.
I love mysteries and I love small town dramas, but for some reason, this story and these characters failed to draw me in. The pace felt slow, with multiple subplots that I didn’t find confusing so much as uninteresting, and so were a struggle to keep track of. There were also a lot of characters introduced throughout the story, who weren’t really fleshed out enough to make me invested in what happened to them.
I enjoyed Arranged and Hidden, but I struggled to get through Smoke. There were threads that intrigued me — Elizabeth’s attempt at a quiet family life, the teenage bullies, the small town corruption — but all just felt like disparate elements that ultimately fell flat.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.