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Kelly, Erin - 'The Burning Air'
Hardback: 368 pages (Jan. 2013) Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton ISBN: 1444728318

The MacBrides are a very close knit family - living in a quiet Cathedral city, and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Rowan, the father is the headmaster of the Cathedral School which all three children, in turn, have attended. Lydia, the mother is a local magistrate and a stalwart of the community.

The story starts is started by Lydia, whose diary entry is a confession, written in the knowledge that she is living on borrowed time. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has kept the knowledge from her family.

After her death Rowan encourages the whole family to spend their usual weekend at Far Barn, the family country cottage, visiting the Ottery St May Carnival celebrating Bonfire Night. Sophie and Will arrive with the three small children, Felix brings his new girlfriend, Kerry, to introduce her to the family and Tara brings her boyfriend, Matt, as well as her teenage son, Jake. Sophie has discovered Will's infidelity shortly after her daughter's birth which happened at the same hospital and on the same day as Lydia's death, and is struggling to keep the news from her family.

Kerry offers to baby-sit Edie to give Sophie and Will some family time with the two older boys while they go with the rest of the family to the Carnival. When Sophie returns to the cottage earlier than expected, she finds Kerry and Edie missing, the landline not working and no means to get in touch with Will. When the family returns, they find Sophie has run the car off the road, the baby missing and Sophie in a panic and wonder whether this is the recurrence of the postnatal depression that resulted in Sophie abandoning Charlie, her youngest son, in a supermarket and disappearing for three days.

As they search for the baby, family secrets are revealed and the reader discovers that all is not how it seems. The family has invited a very dangerous person into their midst, someone who wants the secrets out in the open and the family destroyed.

Different characters share the role of narrator as the book progresses. Each voice is distinct and the individuals also give their own perception of some of the events that are a central part of the book. It is an easy but very compelling read. Erin Kelly has the ability to make the reader want to turn the page. A good thriller but I think some of the themes such as child kidnapping, emotional abuse and manipulation should perhaps come with a warning.

Read another review of THE BURNING AIR.

Susan White, England
January 2013

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 28/09/2013 21:10