by Emily Bleeker
Published on August 29, 2017 by Lake Union Publishing
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
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From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of When I’m Gone comes a compelling novel of a bond between sisters, tested by tragedy…
Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.
Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie
Something about this book never clicked for me.
It’s one of those situations, I think, where I just wasn’t invested in the book’s premise to begin with so I went in halfheartedly. This is one of those suspense stories where you’re told the ending and the mystery comes into unwrapping what really happened and why. Which, it worked. Not my thing but it worked here.
The first thing that jumped out was the theme of family. Ellie is trying to get out of her small town and gets pulled back in to care for her father with her sister. Their relationship plays out but you always have the scene from the beginning in your mind that her sister, Amelia, is shot and Ellie is called to the scene. It heightened the tension and I think that in particular made their family dynamics a large part of the story.
Unfortunately I didn’t really care too much about the characters. Of all of them, Ellie was probably the most well-rounded but even she was fairly bland to me. Plus there were far too many characters thrown into the pot, perhaps to draw the reader’s attention in several directions to lead away from the actual mystery so there’s actually a book, I’m not sure. The level of detail was way over the top and took what could be a fast-paced read to a book I wanted to skim.
The storytelling style in Working Fire is the one aspect that I think was well executed with the shift between the present day and the past, giving this book a standout quality in terms of the genre (at least from what I’ve read, perhaps this is fairly common, I couldn’t say). I don’t think I’d read more from this author unless it fell in the fantasy genre but if you’re a fan of mysteries this might be something to check out.