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Smoke by Catherine Mckenzie
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I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A sympathetic heroine, an innovative setting and a fast paced story line all had me reading furiously to finish. There was just enough of a Canadian connection to keep me happy as well. Fully recommended!
( )
  danojacks | Jan 5, 2017 |
When a wildfire threatens her home, Elizabeth, a former fire investigator, quickly jumps into the fray. She uses her expertise to uncover the origins of the fire, while dealing with marital problems at home.

I really disliked this book. The characters seemed so flat and stereotypical. Mindy’s point of view was completely unnecessary, and took away from the excitement of the fire. This book was extremely slow moving. Instead of telling us what the past problems and conflicts were, the author just kept talking about them, without telling us anything. Very frustrating. Overall, a bust. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Jan 7, 2016 |
A bit of a slow starter for me, but by Chapter 3, I was in! You have a fire investigator, a town and multiple lives going up in smoke, and they're all interconnected on some way or the other. Elizabeth is complicated but loyal, and her battle is both with herself, her relationships and the fire ravaging her hometown. As the fire takes its toll, Elizabeth is able to sort through herself and see what's been in front of her all along, may just be what she needed too. An intelligent journey full of twists and turns that eventually leads to an awakening and awareness as the smoke clears. Well done!
*I received an arc from Netgalley for an honest review ( )
  KimMcReads | Nov 30, 2015 |
I've been a fan of Catherine McKenzie from her first book. She's just released her fifth novel - Smoke. Each of the previous four books have been completely different reads - I never know what to expect when I start one of her books. But what I do know is that I'm going to enjoy it.

Elizabeth fought wildfires as a profession for over ten years, travelling to where she was needed. Its taken a toll on her personal life though. So, now she stays put, living with her husband in a quiet mountain town in the Rockies. Instead, she works as an investigator for the town's attorney. But when an out of control fire threatens the entire town, her skills as an arson investigator are called into play again.

Elizabeth's ex-friend Mindy is also worried about the fire. She knows something is 'off' with her teenage son - and has been for quite a while. And whether or not she wants to admit it, she wonders if he might have had something to do with starting the fire.

Smoke is told in alternating chapters from both women. I really enjoy dual narrative novels - a second look at a same event and/or two stories that will intersect farther down the road as more is revealed.

Although the fire is the stage for the novel, there's much more to Smoke. The personal lives of Elizabeth and Mindy are explored - motherhood, friendship, love, marriage and secrets. While Elizabeth is the 'lead' character, I found myself more drawn to Mindy. I didn't like Elizabeth's secret keeping from her husband - and her justification for those choices. Mindy has made some questionable choices as well, but I was more inclined to forgive her. Her 'redemption', if you will, appealed to me more. McKenzie does a great job of creating a 'mean girls' group that Mindy hangs out with. (But I do want to know what happened to the siphoned library money?) The petulant and aggressive teens are also well drawn.

The mystery of who started the fire runs through the entire book of course. I did have the 'whodunit' sussed out before the end, but quite enjoyed the journey to the final reveal. The fire, the methods used to fight it and the mindset of a firefighter were well researched and believable.

I'm always intrigued by cover choices and titles. I'm not overwhelmed with this cover, but the title made me think of the old adage - "Where there's smoke, there's fire." And its applicable in so many ways to much of the plot line and many of the characters in Smoke.

Smoke is another engaging, easy read from McKenzie. Those who enjoy contemporary women's fiction with a touch of mystery will enjoy Smoke. ( )
  Twink | Nov 11, 2015 |
Let me start by saying I had such a hard time getting into this book. Smoke was a slow read for me. I kept putting it down and had to force myself to pick it back up. The second half of the book was better than the first, but that still didn’t make me enjoy the book. Overall I was left with a feeling of meh.

-Received an ARC in exchange for a review. ( )
  Serenity_Tigerlily | Oct 28, 2015 |
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An evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town. After a decade long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed. For Elizabeth's ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation. As the encroaching inferno threatens the town's residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.… (more)

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