A Slow Fire Burning is most definitely not a fast-paced read, with a host of unlikeable characters, yet I still found myself caught up in the story and keen to know exactly how the various elements combined.
Our story opens with the body of a young man being found on a houseboat. His throat has been slit. A young woman, covered in blood, was seen walking nearby earlier on the day his body was found and it seems as if things are quite straight-forward. Of course, the truth is far more complicated.
Caught up in the story are writer Theo Myerson; his ex-wife, Celia; Celia’s sister, Angela; the dead boy, Daniel; Miriam, who lives on a houseboat next to where Daniel was found; Laura, a vulnerable young woman and her friend Irene, an elderly woman who lives next door to Angela. Each of them has things they would prefer remain hidden, and it doesn’t take us long to work out that they are linked…but the finer details are not all clear until quite late on.
The story – out of necessity – jumps backwards and forwards in time. We have extracts from the fictional novel written by Theo and there were moments throughout the book where I found myself feeling close to figuring out links, only to discover that it wasn’t quite what I thought.
While I enjoyed the overall idea, it did feel like it took rather a long time to get going. Some of the links were tenuous at best, and I found myself quite irritated by the portrayal of Laura. As with a number of the characters, there was a lot about them that I wanted to know which wasn’t covered – perhaps in order to keep our focus on the main story – but it left me with a sense of incompleteness.