The Burning Men by Will Shindler

Today it’s my great pleasure to be joining the bog tour for The Burning Men, the first in a brand new series by Will Shindler. I first picked up a copy of this book at Harrogate last summer and it’s been burning a hole in my TBR list ever since. I’m glad I picked it up now as it is a cracking debut and I have to say a huge thank you to Jenny Platt at Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to be a part of the tour. Here’s what it’s about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy

About the Book

When a development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters runs in to save a man spotted at the window.

They come out without a body. They quit the service. They plan never to speak to each other again.

Five years later one of them is set alight at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did that night. What they chose over their duty. And there are still three men left to burn . . .

DI Alex Finn and his new partner DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the next man faces the fire.

This is first in Will Shindler’s Finn and Paulsen series – a British detective series that ranks with Mark Billingham, M.J. Arlidge, Stuart MacBride.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books

My Thoughts

For a debut novel, The Burning Men sure packs a punch. With central characters who are flawed and intriguing, and a storyline which kept me glued to my seat, I can see this being a very popular book. I know I’m already looking forward to seeing more of the two lead police officers, DI Alex Finn and DC Mattie Paulsen.

The story starts at the scene of an extensive building fire. We meet the five firefighters who are set to become the main focus of the rest of the book – are they to become the potential victims of a killer who is as vicious as he is cunning and who uses the very monster they once fought against them. I’m not sure if there is anything much more distressing than the thought of burning to death, and Will Shindler has certainly done a great job of making that fear come to life without ever really needing to put the reader at the heart of the violence. There is one scene, near the end, in which we are there when the killer strikes, but it provides the chills without being gratuitous, the balance just perfect.

The police team who are investigating the murder are an interesting bunch. We meet both Finn and Paulsen when they are at a turning point in their lives. Finn is mourning the very recent loss of his wife, Paulsen is trying to start again after a case which had a profound effect on her mental state. They are as different as they can possibly be – Finn quite straight and contained while Paulsen is fiery and quick to react – and yet they work. Both are hard to get to know, Finn because he is so guarded and Paulsen as she is scared to be honest, but you can tell that behind both facades, there are two very intelligent and capable individuals. It takes some time for them to find their balance as a pair, that point of harmony where they can trust each other, but you see the gradual thawing of their relationship to a point where they make a brilliant team, and you the respect begins to grow on each side. The way in which the author has portrayed Finn’s leadership style and his management of the angry Paulsen, is spot on and very believable, as is Finn’s expression of grief and the way in which it impacts on his working life.

The story is full of twists and turns, the suspect pool limited but all very viable. This is not so much a how or why-dunnit as the potential reasons for the attacks are revealed throughout the course of the book. Finn may well have a clear suspicion of what has made the men potential targets, but proving it is an entirely different matter. And yet, despite the revelation and the underlying threat, there is far more at play in this book than you may think. There is a secondary investigation that is inextricably linked to Finn’s case and which informs the story and adds more than a few surprises and twists and turns of its own.

There are moments of real tension throughout the book that kept me wanting to read onward, as well as a clear expression of the emotions that drive the central characters. This is a story of principals – both those upheld and those which are compromised for varying reasons. Sometimes I felt that I could understand why people behaved the way that they did, even if I didn’t condone their actions. It is certainly an interesting moral dilemma and a look at how one decision, made in the of the moment, can have untold and devastating consequences for the future.

Tense, suspenseful and satisfying, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, really liked the central characters, and can’t wait to catch up with the team again.

About the Author

Will Shindler has been a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC for over twenty-five years, spending a decade working in television drama as a scriptwriter on Born and BredThe Billand Doctors. His time on these leading prime time dramas has given him a rich grounding in authentic police procedure, powerful character development and gripping narratives. He currently combines reading the news on BBC Radio London with writing crime novels and has previously worked as a television presenter for HTV, a sports reporter for BBC Radio Five Live, and one of the stadium presenters at the London Olympics. The Burning Men is his first novel.

Author Links: Twitter

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