First Sentence: The rain was unforgiving.
Former FBI agent June Lyons is now a small-town cop in upstate New York where her family lives. An unidentified woman, critically burned in a warehouse fire, leads to finding another body sealed for years in a barrel within the warehouse. The question is not only who they are, but how they impact June’s family and that of her friend and partner.
Cooley begins with a good introduction of the protagonist, June Lyons, and concise information on her background. It’s nice when an author doesn’t assume readers have read previous books in the series. There is also an excellent description of the event and history of the building, including the building’s relationship to her partner’s family. Best of all is a very good, early plot twist.
When people think of New York, they automatically think of New York City. It’s a nice change to a story to depict a small, working-class factory town in the state instead. It would have been nice to have a greater sense of where the town, even if fictional, was located; a stronger sense of place. The author kept referring to being on “the island” but you never had an understanding as to what island and what mainland.
June, her daughter Lucy, and her mom were very strong characters; more so even than the rather annoying FBI agent, Hale. There were also a couple times I was caught off-guard and actually laughed aloud, which is always the sign of an author having a good voice. And Cooley does have a wonderful voice… “Between Tanya and these two, I felt surrounded by vigilantes. I was lucky they didn’t have gun permits. Oh wait! They did!”. It often adds just the right element of lightness to the story…”Hale gave a low whistle. “Dickens called. He wants his prison back.”” There were references June made about her daughter Lucy which even caused me to laugh aloud.
The use of the Hale was important and well done, however, in that he facilitated Lucy having access to resources and information she would not on her own as a police officer. The forensic information was fascinating and critical to the plot.
The author does do a very good job of capturing how difficult things can be between a parent and a child, particularly when they are very different as individuals. It’s nice that one character originally designed to be disliked, turns into one of the best characters in the story.
The characters and their relationships do enable some very good plot twists. However, there are so many characters, and even secondary names for some, that their relationships became confusing. It was difficult to keep them straight and to feel connected to them.
“Flame Out” was a good read with some major strengths and minor weaknesses. It will be worth watching this author progress.
FLAME OUT (Pol Proc-June Lyons-Hopewell Falls, NY-Contemp) – G+
Cooley, M.P. – 2nd in series
William Morrow – May 2015