Thursday, 1 August 2013

Clean Burn

de Karen Sandler
Exhibit A - 2013 (Angry Robot)
304 page - 16.99 $

I got this book through Netgalley and more specifically thanks to Exhibit A (A for Arson!) A new branch of Angry Robot (excellent publisher and guarantee of quality!). I wanted to discover this author and her heroine, a newcomer in the world of crime fiction.


“No child should ever stay missing…”

Wry, smart, tough private eye Janelle Watkins swore off investigating child abductions four years ago, when she left the San Francisco PD.

But when two clients with missing children beg for her help, Janelle can’t say no. Even though it means returning to the scene of her nightmares – her hometown of Greenville.

Forced to enlist the help of her ex-partner and ex-lover, Greenville County Sheriff Ken Heinz, Janelle soon finds herself playing with fire in more than one way, and in a race against the clock to find the missing children before it’s too late.

If Janet Evanovich and the Cohen Brothers ever sat down to collaborate on a story, then this is exactly the kind of incredible novel they might come up with – one full of twists and turns and memorable characters…

Isn’t it about time you met the unforgettable Janelle Watkins?

What I think of it

An excellent first crime fiction - because Sandler is a prolix author in other kind of book - with a heroine with multiple injuries and flaws, but very endearing.

About the characters: Janelle Watkins, ex-cop, private detective, tortured (in every sense of the word) by his past. A heroine not too girly nor too tomboy, a nice mix - which is not always the case for female detectives or cops, I must say. There is also Ken Heinz, ex-partner (in every sense of the word), honest, straightforward and sincere. Two characters very sympathetic to follow. Then there is a lot of secondary characters, well thought out, which gives the impression of being part of the town and to know its inhabitants.

The narrative. Two parallel investigations, one on fire and the other on child abductions bring two former partners together again. The pace does not falter, either because a new lead opens to find the children or because another fire raged. We are taken by the adventures to a burning final (in every sense of the word!)

The author knows how to transcribe Janelle's demons and her worries. We are really feeling her emotions - and they are not all pleasant! - which leads us to understand her reactions - and they are not all pleasant either! I suspected several different people and many times the right one, but I was never really sure until the end. Latter (but not the least in my case), the humor - often cynical - is very well distilled through the story, which makes it more enjoyable to read.

In a nutshell

A very good first crime fiction by Karen Sandler. A heroine to love, despite her shortcomings (or perhaps because of them, I do not know). A story whose rhythm does not slow down. I gave it 4/5!

My thought on closing the book: some great characters!

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