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Books – Review of A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins – 2021 – Captivating Novel

by AniM
a slow fire burning cover
A Slow Fire Burning Book Cover

Book Review of A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins – Captivating Novel

My Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Plot Summary – A Slow Fire Burning

Six years after 2015’s runaway hit “The Girl on a Train“, comes Paula Hawkins‘s third novel – A Slow Fire Burning. It is obvious that does start off with a lot of expectations, but in that way, this is not as exciting as that. A 23-year-old man, Daniel Sutherland, is found stabbed to death in a dingy rented houseboat on a canal on the outskirts of London. The body is discovered by Miriam, another boat owner living next door. This starts off with this premise of trying to identify the killer of this young man but as the book progresses, multiple storylines shoot out like vines from this main shoot.

Various characters are introduced, and honestly, the head spins trying to keep track of who is what and related how! But it does get easier by repetition. Donald is the single child of Angela, who’s recently died of a fall down the stairs (or did someone push her?). Angela‘s neighbor is Irene, an old bat but sharp as a tack. Then there is CarlaAngela‘s sister and Theo, Carla‘s husband who has written one bestseller and since then is stuck with writer’s block! The wild card here is LauraDaniel‘s one-night stand partner who was seen leaving the houseboat little before Daniel’s body was discovered – with blood all over her dress.

Book Trailer of A Slow Fire Burning

Laura herself has an interesting back story. She met with an accident when she was ten, which changed her physically and mentally and resulted in her parents’ separation. The scars that these leave on her makes her an unhinged, somewhat out-of-control young girl whose need for her parents’ love and validation, leaves her devastated. This I found to be the most profound aspect of the novel, where we as adults, do not think twice about our actions in front of our vulnerable young and later in life when the scars of our actions, show up in our young ones, we act surprised and devastated.

The novel runs through all the possibilities here, each of the characters (well maybe not the eighty-plus Irene) seems to have the motivation and the opportunity to have killed Daniel. In Miriam‘s back story lies the sordid saga of abduction, rape and murder, and possibly unsolved crime. the story runs along at a jolly good pace, though it does meander a bit in certain places where the narrative gets a bit drab. As each chapter brings a little more clarity ( and some more confusion at times?), you would feel that you know who is the murderer, only to be proved wrong. That’s what good thrillers are all about, isn’t it?

a slow fire burning alternate cover
A Slow Fire Burning Alt Book Cover

Conclusion – Book Review of A Slow Fire Burning

Unfortunately, this is not in the same class as The Girl on the Train, the tension and the mystery are not as gripping or confounding. The role of the Police feels a bit undercooked and the crime is solved at the end, the Police have a rather small role in uncovering it. Mostly written at a jolly good pace, with the characters getting their development little by little as every page passes by. None of the characters are perfect, or all evil, but the shades of grey in each make them far more interesting. And finally, when the end comes along, it is a little bit of an anti-climax – like a birthday balloon hanging limp the next morning!

Yes, it’s definitely a recommended read but one word of caution, do not approach this with the same expectations as from The Girl on the Train, just as a normal thriller and this will not disappoint. I look forward to hearing the views of those who’ve read it already…

a slow fire burning cover
A slow Fire Burning Author Paula Hawkins

*I hope you have enjoyed reading this book review as much as I have enjoyed writing this! Do watch this space for more such reviews and navigate through the links below for more… Thank you!! *

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jkaybay 24 November 2021 - 3:56 AM

Did you enjoy her other books? After Train, I tried Into the Water but ended up dropping it.

AniM 24 November 2021 - 4:19 AM

This is the first I’ve read of her, so honestly, can’t comment on the earlier ones. This one was good enough….

jkaybay 24 November 2021 - 4:33 AM

I liked girl on the train but at the same time it kind of irritated me a little bit, so perhaps I’m not going to be a fan from now on!

AniM 24 November 2021 - 4:55 AM

Yeah, I feel you


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