Carol Award: Short Contemporary Suspense: Finalist: Firestorm
Author: Kelly Ann Riley
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense (Tina James, Editor)
Category: Short Contemporary Suspense
Reviewed by: Kim Peterson
An anonymous phone call notifies Kitty McGuire that her deceased father, a former fire chief, is under investigation for arson. She takes leave from her job as a firefighter and rushes to her hometown, determined to prove her father’s innocence and preserve his memory.
Riley deftly weaves conflict into the lives of her likeable characters.
But her wild teen years leave her at odds with the local sheriff, and joining forces with the new fire chief, Luke Tanner, doesn’t appeal. The man attracts her but infuriates her at the same time. Luke, a widowed FBI agent, hesitates to involve Kitty, but she knows fire and he needs her tenacity and savvy to solve this case. Kitty develops a rapport with his troubled son, but Luke doesn’t trust others easily. He knows misplaced confidence could cost his son’s life.
Working together, Luke and Kitty soon realize she’s been lured home and more is at stake than her father’s reputation. As the danger escalates, their skills, budding relationship, faith, and lives are tested by fire. Kitty must learn to trust Luke even as she begins to question the relationships from her childhood. One of the people she believes in just may be an arsonist—and a killer.
In Firestorm, her debut novel, Kelly Ann Riley displays storytelling finesse, building a suspenseful plot that deals with a foundational premise: Humans must trust each other and God. Riley deftly weaves conflict into the lives of her likeable characters who develop belief in each other while striving to overcome past hurts and current risks.
The interesting subplot about Luke’s son effectively echoes the story’s trust-related theme. Riley maintains conflict throughout the characters’ quest to solve the case, and she controls the story pace well, keeping the reader turning pages to discover who’s playing with fire.
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