Finished Smoke by Catherine McKenzie.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

I am a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie’s books and I think this one might be her best (note: I still have not read Hidden).

Her earlier books have concepts that seem like they’re going to be fluffy, mindless reads but which completely transcend the “guilty pleasure” genre.  They’re smart and well-done and have all the character development you could want.  They’re fun, but they’re not stupid.

This one, though, sounded like a departure from her earlier books.  It doesn’t seem like it will be Serious Literature, but it definitely sounds heavier than her previous novels.  And it is.  There are very real problems (even beyond the fire, which is threatening to destroy part of a town).  But it’s not depressing or maudlin.

Like all of Catherine McKenzie’s novels, this is a must-read.  Recommended.


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