Monday, June 10, 2013

Not a Typical Mystery

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly (Pamela Dorman Books hardcover, 21 February 2013) .

Reviewed by Marlyn Beebe.

Erin Kelly's third novel is an atypical mystery in that it doesn't begin with a murder, the solution of which is investigated throughout the story and solved by the end of the book.  Instead, it explores complex themes like obsession, love, hope, and desperation. 

The story opens with MacBride family matriarch Lydia discovering she has a fatal illness, and deciding not to share this information with her the rest of the clan.

Fast forward to the following autumn.  Lydia's three adult children Sophie, Tara and Felix meet their father Rowan at their weekend home in Devon, where they plan to scatter Lydia's ashes.  Sophie, who had been nine months pregnant with her fourth child when her mother died, is accompanied by her husband Will and their three sons, as well as infant Edie.  Tara brings her son Jake and her fiancĂ© Matt, and for the first time youngest brother Felix brings a girlfriend, a quiet young woman called Kerry.

The family drives into the village one night for a bonfire, and Kerry offers to stay with the baby so that Sophie can join her family.  Returning home early with her youngest son Charlie, who is overwhelmed by the crowds, Sophie finds an empty house.  Sophie is understandably frantic, no less because she's unable to call for her:  cell phones don't work in the area, and the house phone is inexplicably dead. 

The distraught family searches for Edie and her kidnapper, and in attempting to determine why Kerry would have taken the baby, they discover all sorts of secrets their mother has kept from them. 

This absolutely absorbing and somewhat spooky tale  (definitely not horror), should appeal to fans of Debra Ginsberg and Emily Arsenault.   Make sure you set aside a block of time to read this, because once begun, you won't want to put it down.

FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. What a great review, Marlyn. I love secrets and will be putting this one on my TBR list. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Peg. If my review can make a person want to read the book, I've done my job!


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