First Sentence: He
bought the wick online from a candle-supply shop in Houston,
calling the people up first to ask which type of wick burned
The body of a woman, with a large burn scar on one side of
her face, is found in a local forest. With no way to identify
her, the police release her photo to the media asking for
the public’s help.
Money is tight, in the McMorrow family, now that Jack and
Roxanne have a daughter, Roxanne is no longer working as a
social worker, and they have to depend on the free-lance stories
Jack sells to the New York Times and other outlets. An arson
fire in the small town of Sanctuary just might prove the story
Jack needs. Rather than being a single incident, it quickly
becomes clear that someone has an agenda, and the town is
happy to accuse those who are most vulnerable. Roxanne finds
she can’t separate from her old job as much as she’d
planned when she, and her family, are threatened by the drug-addicted
mother whose child died when placed in foster care.
There’s nothing like a strong opening, and Boyle starts
us off with a very frightening, yet compelling, prologue,
immediately followed by a beginning which guarantees impending
Boyle has created a cast of characters we what to know on
an ongoing basis. As well as Jack and Roxanne, he has also
created one of the most appealing, least annoying, children
in Sofie. Then there are their neighbors and friends Mary
and her husband, Clair, the ex-Marine Commando who always
has Jack’s back. Additionally, there are secondary characters
who are fully developed and hold their own.
The dialogue is excellent. It flows very naturally and is
appropriate to the characters and their relationships. “Are
you going to return our firearms?” Clair said. “What
if I don’t?” Foley said. “I’ll have
to back to the house and get some more.” Clair said.
There are also good lessons to be learned about how much control
one does, and does not, have and where one’s responsibilities
ends, as well as providing those moments that cause one to
stop and consider…”Every society has a warrior
class. Without that we have anarchy. You’d see way more
suffering, way more carnage. We fight to keep humanity from
going totally crazy. Somebody has to step up.” Even
if way may not completely agree with the philosophy, it does
cause one to think. Boyle is an author who knows how to convey
emotions and people reactions to tension and stress.
Once Burned is a very good book with excellent tension
all the way through.