Review: Boston PI Spenser is asked by a firefighter to look into a series of fires that are popping up across the city, with particular attention to a blaze set a year ago that claimed the lives of three of his colleagues, in Slow Burn, the fifth entry in this long-running series created by Robert B. Parker and written by Ace Atkins.
Jack McGee is convinced that the arson investigators must have missed something, that the deadly fire at the old Catholic Church was intentionally set. Though still officially an open case, the conclusion most have come to is that it was simply an unfortunate accident. As a favor to McGee, Spenser starts to poke around in the way that only he can, starting with some of the more recent fires that he quickly comes to believe are related to the church fire. When his own home is torched, Spenser knows he's close to uncovering the truth. But where is the evidence that will convict the arsonists?
Slow Burn is certainly faithful to the tenor of the series, though the plot is a little thin and it isn't clear that Spenser does anything different than a professional arson investigator would have done (or should have already done). There is little suspense here; the culprits have their own point-of-view interstitial chapters, outlining their reasons for setting the fires and what they hope will be accomplished from their efforts and there are times where it seems as if Spenser has simply read these chapters himself and subsequently acted accordingly. And there's surprisingly little action. Spenser's support group remains largely in the background this go-round, which is generally the way it should be; while Susan and Hawk are solid characters on their own merit, in the past either or both have tended to take center stage to the detriment of the story. Parker always seemed to leave his Spenser books a little rough around the edges, and that how this one feels. Sturdy in its own way, enjoyable for what it is, but not breaking any new ground.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided an ARC of Slow Burn for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Putnam (Hardcover), July 2015
ISBN-13: 9780399173943; ISBN-10: 0399173943
Location(s) referenced in Slow Burn: Boston
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Slow Burn by Ace Atkins — A Spenser Novel
Publication Date: May 2016
List Price: $27.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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