In the new novel, Smoke by Catherine McKenzie, Elizabeth is used to fighting fires. She has been working with wildfire management teams for a long time. What she is not used to fighting for is peace at home. Her life as an arson investigator has caused major problems at home: the long hours, the preoccupation with work, and the close relationships with coworkers have taken a toll on her marriage. Elizabeth and her husband are on the verge of divorce. Her once close relationship with her close friend, Mindy, is in tatters.
Elizabeth’s former friend, Mindy, is not faring much better. She is struggling to find her place in the community. Though she values her husband and children, she is having trouble negotiating a relationship with them. When a deadly, out of control wildfire threatens the town, Mindy finds new purpose in trying to raise money for the elderly displaced man whose property contained the fire origin.
The fire investigation reveals that the beginning of the fire is more suspect than originally thought. When the inquiry reveals that local teens may be involved, it leads to Elizabeth and Mindy questioning their families as well as their relationships within the town.
Though there is a mystery in Smoke, I would place the novel more firmly in the category of women’s’ fiction. The bulk of the novel is really spent upon the relationships of the women to each other and to the members of their families. I found the book to be well written with fleshed-out, believable characters.
The plot, while involving, did not build much of a sense of anticipation for me, and though I was interested to know what actually happened, I did not feel compelled to find out. Instead, I was more interested to know if the relationships of the women improved.
Another aspect of the novel that is well done is the description of fire and its toll on communities. It is clear that Catherine McKenzie knows what she is talking about when it comes to managing fire danger and its impact upon those first responders who try to save lives and property.
Overall, Smoke was an enjoyable read and I learned a bit about the world of fire management as well.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina