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Burn You Twice
BY Mary Burton

Montlake
September 29, 2020/ ISBN 9781542021289
Mystery/Thriller

Reviewed by Elise Cooper

AMAZON

Burn You Twice by Mary Burton is suspenseful with a heated plot. Fire is front and center in this book, whose main antagonist is an arsonist. An added feature of the plot is how Burton gives glimpses and insight into an arsonist's deranged mind. This psychological thriller intermingles a slight romance with family, fire, mistakes, and second chances.

At the end of every chapter are confessions of an arsonist. "I want readers to understand how they get a rush from seeing the destruction of a fire and have complex psychological reasons. Some of the reasons they do it can include financial, revenge, and something deeply personal. They experience the thrill, control, power, and danger. Since everybody is a creature of habit, some arsonists can have their favorite technique on how they set a fire. It is very creepy. I want the reader to get a sense of what the arsonist is thinking. This is a guy tracking his own thoughts and activity. I am looking to create the scary factor."

Readers quickly learn that ten years ago, college student Joan Mason and her best friend, Ann Bailey, were rescued from a fire that destroyed the house they shared in Missoula, Montana. A fellow student, Elijah Weston, was subsequently tried and convicted of the crime, though he professed his innocence. Shaken, she fled the small collegiate Montana town, leaving behind friends, and never looked back. Now a Philadelphia homicide detective, Joan's trying to put her traumas to rest.

“I wrote Joan as someone who grew up rough. She came together for me pretty quickly and drove the story for me. She came to Montana to start fresh, to re-invent herself. All of a sudden, she nearly dies in a fire and realizes there are no safe places, so she goes back to her hometown of Philadelphia. She becomes obsessed with stopping arsonists since she knows first-hand the destructive power. Joan will not let her fear stop her from getting the arsonist. What makes it interesting is that she is terrified of fire but is determined to run toward it. Joan has made it a specialty to figure out their pattern and to stop them. Overall, she is stubborn, bold, guarded, and direct.”

Ten years have passed, and Elijah Weston is out of prison and returning to Missoula. Gut instinct tells Joan he'll strike again. To stop him, she returns to Montana. She now must face not only the man she fears but Detective Gideon Bailey, the man she loved and left behind. Staying with her friend and former roommate Ann, Joan finds Ann is separated from Clarke, her firefighter husband, and is living at her parents' ranch with their son Nate.

"The relationship between Gideon and Joan was broken with both having hurt feelings. Joan, because two months after she left, she finds out he got a girlfriend pregnant and married her. She had the attitude, "he did not even let the pillow get cold." Gideon because he was madly in love with Joan, and when she went back to Philadelphia, it threw him for a loop. Now they are trying to figure each other out and have a tendency to initiate low sarcastic blows."

Shortly after Joan's arrival and Elijah’s' release from prison, an arson fire destroys the Beau- T- Shop. There is a fatality with one of the stylists inside. Joan vows to find the culprit, which requires her to examine her past and relive the terrifying night she nearly died. The investigation draws Joan and Gideon together, but it also sends them down a dangerous path, into a troubling history that Joan, Gideon, Clark, Elijah, and Ann all share. All are determined to find the arsonist before other buildings go up in flames.

"For me, the fire was like a character, a living thing. It moves through rooms with speed, makes noise, and its smoke changes color. A jolt of oxygen can make it angry, and that is when things blow up, almost like it was provoked. I remember five years ago, at another Writer's Police Academy, how they set fire to a building. I saw how quickly the fire consumed it. After ten minutes, the whole thing was consumed."

Readers should be excited to learn that there will be a book 2 titled Near You. It will be out in the spring and will feature Ann and Elijah.
The plot has scorching action. The twists and turns keep the reader on the edge of their seat as they will not want to put the novel down.

Reviewed 2020
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