‘Firewatching’ – Russ Thomas

Review by Roxie Key


A cold case that burns. A city about to ignite.

If I had to describe Firewatching by Russ Thomas in one word, it would be wow. And if I’m honest, that doesn’t even give this book justice. 
Told over the period of a week and set in the sleepy village of Castledene, Sheffield, Firewatching is a dark and twisty police procedural introducing Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler, a cold case reviewer with a troubled past, and the sole representative of South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit. When the skeleton of corrupt businessman Gerald Cartwright is discovered bricked-up behind a false wall in the cellar of the Old Vicarage, Adam lands himself this high-profile murder investigation, only to find himself in hot water.
The good news is that they have a prime suspect. The bad news? That suspect is Oscar, his recent one-night stand.
Russ is unbelievably good at writing character. I love a memorable, flawed protagonist and Adam does not disappoint; I found myself rooting for this tenacious character from the very beginning. Along with ambitious Constable Amina Rabbani and despite his link to the suspect, Adam manages to stay on the case, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Will this be the case that finally allows him to show his superiors what he’s made of?
And then there’s Lily Bainbridge and Edna Burnside, an elderly couple who looked after Oscar as a child. The hand-delivered notes that keep being pushed through Lily’s door terrify her. I know what you did. If only the dementia wasn’t stopping her from knowing what she did. 
As more and more fires spring up all over Castledene, it’s clear that a pyromaniac is on the loose, dead set on watching the world burn. But why? Told from the perspectives of Adam, Rabbani, Lily and a mysterious, anonymous blogger known only as the Fire Watcher, this
story scorches with a tangle of threads that I challenge even the most seasoned of thriller readers to tie together before the incredible, unpredictable ending. An ending I did not see it coming. At all. 
Firewatching is a tense, suspenseful read that is as intriguing as it is gripping. The writing is sharp and meticulously plotted. I blazed through this unputdownable book in a matter of days, and I’m confident you will too.

Note: If you’re a Friend of the Bay you can read an exclusive short story from Russ here.

Note 2: If you’re a Friend of the Bay you can read an exclusive short story from Roxie Key here.

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