Thursday, May 5, 2022

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

A Slow Fire Burning
by Paula Hawkins
9 hours, 19 minutes
Read by Rosamund Pike
Published August 2021 by Penguin Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary: 
When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment. Who are, whether they know it or not, burning to right the wrongs done to them. When it comes to revenge, even good people might be capable of terrible deeds. How far might any one of them go to find peace? How long can secrets smolder before they explode into flame?

My Thoughts: 
Seven years ago I read Paula Hawkins' debut, The Girl On The Train, and I was one of the people who raced through it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was perfectly willing to suspend disbelief, loved the alternating chapters by nearly equally unreliable narrators, and did not see the ending coming at all (ok, well, that last bit isn't all that surprising - you know I rarely do!). Then, as I am wont to do, I didn't pick up her next book. That's not entirely true, I do own Into The Water, I just haven't read it yet after reading some less than glowing reviews. 

This time I didn't bother with the reviews. I was looking for a new audiobook and this one was available so I snatched it up with high hopes. 

Hawkins has returned her to what, I assume, has become her formula - a story told from the point of view of three unreliable (and not in the least likable) women. The women initially appear to have nothing in common but we soon find out that their lives have intertwined in various ways. All of the men in the book are detestable. And we jump back and forth in time, often getting a part of the story from more than one point of view. Which makes it mighty interesting that perhaps the only person in the book who's likable, Irene, wonders this about the book within a book that appears here: "Why couldn't people just tell a story straight any longer, start to finish?" This book is one time where I kind of wondered the same thing myself. 

Somewhere I read that readers would never see the end coming, never figure out who the killer was. To which I, of all people, disagree. I knew about half way through the book who the killer was and if I can figure it out, I'm pretty sure you'll see it coming as well. There are some rather icky things that pop up in the book, none of which made this book any better for me. I'm sorry to say that I was really disappointed by this one. It could have been better. 

Guys, Maureen Corrigan really, really did not like this book (her review in The Washington Post). I have never read a Maureen Corrigan book review that I recall being so scathing. Still, I'm happy to know I wasn't the only person who felt this way about this one. 

THE saving grace of this one, for me, was Rosamunde Pike's reading. She is superb and I hope to get to listen to her reading again soon, hopefully something that deserves her skills better.  

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