The Fire Killer by Ross Greenwood

Today I am delighted to join the tour for the latest DI Barton novel from Ross Greenwood, The Fire Killer. I’ve really been enjoying this series and seeing the characters develop and this latest offering is another cracking story. My thanks to publisher Boldwood Books for the advance copy and to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite. Here’s what the book’s about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 30 May 2022
Publisher: Boldwood Books

About the Book

When DI Barton is asked to investigate a seemingly innocuous fire that kills, he believes it’s either children fooling around or a worrying racially-motivated crime.

As he delves deeper into the case, he soon realises that there is a history of similar blazes spread out over many years, all within a close area. An idea suggested by pathologist Mortis makes Barton suspect he has the arsonist’s motives wrong.

When a night worker comes forward with a tip, Barton narrows down the suspects. But with all of them acting suspiciously, he knows for sure that one or more of them must be lying. And when a huge house blaze shocks everyone, Barton fears the killer has lost all control.

Who is The Fire Killer? What will be next to burn?

DI Barton is back as Ross Greenwood continues with his bestselling series, perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin.

My Thoughts

I really do like this series. Like the way the author has chosen to blend the police investigation with scenes told from the killer’s points of view. Scenes that seek to enhance our understanding of the motives, or lack thereof, of the person or persons behind the crime whilst also firing in enough misdirection to keep you guessing right until the end. That is very much the case in The Fire Killer, a case that is set to become very personal for the team and which provides a conclusion that is as shocking as it is perfectly fitting.

After a fast and furious opening to the book which left me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what had happened, we are face with a case which, at first, seems slower in pace but is in no way lacking in urgency. It is more a lack of any decent clues that stymies the investigation than a lack of pace or sense of threat. Whilst the first reported death may possibly be the result of misadventure rather than a deliberate case of murder, there is a sense that things are slowly escalating, that the killer’s preoccupation with fire is set to take an even more sinister turn.

Whether that is the case or not, you’ll have to read to find out, but the story maintains an air of authenticity by exploring the way in which the crimes move from simple wheelie bin fires to fires with far more serious consequences. As ever, there is an emotional side to the killers story, and nothing is ever quite as simple as being able to denounce the perpetrator as simply evil, which is part of why I like this series so much. There is always a reason. Not always justifiable, but the crime is seldom a result of the person just being bad. The author helps us to understand, takes us into the killer’s point of view, placing us as an unwitting voyeur, but for me one who is there out of fascination and often sympathy for them

Another reason I like the series is the characters that Ross Greenwood has developed. Barton is a great cop, a true family man who is also dedicated to his career but often frustrated by not being in a position to help others. After the loss of his mother, he gets set to welcome a new family member in this book, one who causes a good deal of merriment and distraction in what could otherwise be a very sad tale. Alongside him, more often than not, we find DS Zander. He was a troubled soul in the early days of the series, but he and Barton really bring out the best in each other, and I love the camaraderie and banter between them. Then there are DS Strange and DC Pignatiello, who more than hold their own against their male counterparts and whilst not being front and centre of the investigation, play a really crucial part in the way in which the case plays out.

I really enjoy they way in which Ross Greenwood uses the investigations to look at some of the most relevant and prevalent aspects of modern society. From drug wars to deception and manipulation, he introduces us to a wide variety of characters, all of whom could easily be our top suspect, and mostly are at various stages throughout the book. The entertain, amuse in some cases and draw out the sympathy in others. They are all three dimensional, believable, and all unique in voice and place within the story. McBride is a character who I am certain will bring a smile to many a face, and I loved his openness and candor. He’s perhaps the only one of them I’d trust … but only so far.

The ending has a certain kind of inevitability about it but is still shocking in its execution. I could feel the tension building, feel the anger and resignation from what came to pass, and the way in which the wheels of justice moved far too slowly for it ever to be a reasonable conclusion to this particular tale. But I wasn’t expecting that. Impactful and horrific but in an understated and almost serene way, which is not easy. There is a feeling of things coming full circle although certainly not in the way Barton would have wished for. It left a mixture of emotions in me as reader, the ultimate feeling being one of satisfaction. Another great addition to the series and recommended to fans of great police based thrillers.

About the Author

Ross Greenwood is the bestselling author of ten crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.

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