Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review: Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

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 What I thought about Smoke
 On the night arson investigator Elizabeth tells her husband Ben she wants a divorce, their small town is threatened by a forest fire that's spreading toward their home.  They end up evacuating to his parent's house, and the change in location and the stress of the fire help Elizabeth and Ben to unravel some of the issues in their marriage.  I liked how their situation was revealed gradually over the course  of the book, which mirrored how the gradual breakdown in their communication led to the talk of divorce.

But as Elizabeth investigates the fire, she finds that there are connections to her former best friend Mindy.  Mindy is the other narrator of this story and she's got some issues in her life she's dealing with too.  The legacy of an child with a serious health condition and a son that is keeping secrets put Mindy on edge and when the arson investigation points to one of her family, she's got some issues she has to work through asap.

I really like how this story was constructed. Details are revealed gradually through each of the narrators against the backdrop of the impending fire. Elizabeth is a dedicated and knowledgeable firefighter who loved her job and I appreciated that about her. Having Elizabeth in a non-traditional role was a very interesting part of this story. It was really nice to have a female firefighter perspective.

I was intrigued by the synopsis to this story and I'm glad I decided to give it a try.  It was an engaging read that was focused more on the relationships between Elizabeth, Mindy, and Ben rather than the fire.  The writing is good and the pace pulls you toward the end of the story rather nicely.  The ending wrapped up a little quickly for me, and I wanted a little more of Ben and Elizabeth's story, so that's why this wasn't a 5 star read for me.

If you are looking for something that leans more toward relationships than romance, with a touch of action and mystery, Smoke might be for you. I'll be keeping at eye out for this author's new releases.

ARC provided by publisher(Lake Union) for review.

About the Author

A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practises law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN and HIDDEN, are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Slovakian and Czech. HIDDEN was also a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Digital Bookworld bestseller. She has also published a novella, SPUN, which is a sequel to SPIN.

Her fifth novel, SMOKE, will be published by Lake Union on October 20, 2015. She is currently at work on her sixth novel, which is expected to be published in 2016.

And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.
Visit her online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @cemckenzie1.

1 comment:

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