Fire and Ashes by Elaine Viets is the second book in the “Death Investigator Angela Richman” mystery series. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, coming July 25, 2017
In the exclusive, gated enclave of Olympia Forest Estates, death investigator Angela Richman watches a mansion go up in a fiery blaze. With it, seventy-year-old financier Luther Delor, a drunken, bed-hopping rhinestone cowboy. Embroiled in a bitter divorce, Delor may have scandalized Chouteau Forest, but his murder has united it against the accused: Delor’s twenty-year-old girlfriend, Kendra Salvato, an “outsider.” With an engagement ring bigger than Chouteau County, she’s being railroaded straight to death row as a gold-digging killer.
All there is against Kendra is vicious gossip and anti-Mexican rage, and both are spreading like wildfire. Meanwhile, Angela is trying to douse the flames with forensic work that’s putting the Forest on edge. After all, facts could implicate one of their own. Now, sifting through the ashes of a vicious crime—and the guilty secrets of the privileged—only Angela can get to the truth, and prevent an innocent woman from getting burned.
This is one book that I could not put down, quickly becoming a page turner. Who killed Luther Delor? Everyone suspects his very young Mexican fiancee. Did she do it? Is she also the arsonist? Well, I have to tell you that Elaine wrote a well-executed intense drama that captured the essence of what was going on with the parties involved in this case. From the fire inspector to the detective, they already had the town convinced of her guilt. Enters Angela who feels there is more to this and once she gets involved, this becomes an all-around deeply insightful tale dealing with the aftermath of death and arson.
The narrative was visually descriptive letting me imagine the goriness that Angela faced as a death investigator but it’s her strength that prevails when all is said and done. The mystery was tightly woven with subplots that played off each other that helped enhance the telling of this tale. The author does a nice job in setting the stage in this hard-boiled thriller where scene by scene, eye-opening details are exposed and it’s the culmination of facts that involved the town’s own residents and their demons and a few strategically placed twists brought this story to a justifiable conclusion. This is an engagingly riveting read and I can’t wait to read the next book with in this gripping series.
FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author.