Review by Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes
Publisher: Doubleday 31st August 2021
ISBN 978-0857524447 HB
The “slow fire burning” of the title must surely be something that we all have within us
to some degree. Those things that burn away at our very core over days, weeks,
months, maybe years, and which threaten, with little warning, to ignite and take out
all around them with their intense heat.
A Slow Fire Burning is a story of a tangled web of connections, some obvious and
some not so. The map at the beginning shows where each major player lives and
whilst there are men in this story, its very much about three women, Laura, Miriam and
Carla, each with their own cross to bear. Laura and Miriam’s traumas go back to their
childhood, shocking events with far-reaching consequences. Carla’s life imploded in
adulthood in the worst of ways.
My favourite character was actually Irene, a woman who seemingly has a supporting part but is actually central to the story. A series of butterfly effects links them all and I thought Hawkins did a fantastic job of bringing them all together and then unveiling them one by one.
As I read this book had no expectations about what this book was going to be. Its not a fast-paced
thriller, more of a gently simmering domestic noir which comes to the boil in quite
unexpected ways. There’s a cleverness to the writing, a literary theme running through
the story which I particularly enjoyed, and some aspects of the conclusion that I
thought ingenious on the part of the author. There is an underlying tension to this
ultimately dark story and a murder mystery at its heart. Whilst undoubtedly a slow
burner, it always kept my attention with its intriguing and multi-layered characters
and its twisty storyline.