by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of In Hot Water. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
When we last saw the town of Sweet Pepper’s Fire Chief Stella Griffin, she was attempting to stop Councilman Floyd from bulldozing the home she lives in but he now owned. It wasn’t that Stella loved the cabin as much as she feared destroying it would cut ties that keep the previous fire chief grounded to this plane of existence. Eric Gamblyn may have died forty years ago but his presence is felt in the cabin he now haunts. Stella relies on him for advice, companionship, and impressive meals. Eric may be a little out of date and she may not always agree with him, but Sweet Pepper hasn’t changed all that much and his insight proves invaluable. An unexpected spurt in his ability to travel and experience the twenty-first century is a delight for readers but makes for awkward situations when Stella is in public.
Stella’s concerns about Floyd’s stability are sidelined as arson and the possible murder of a former state representative takes precedence. Stella is also responsible for training qualified volunteers, an arduous task based on demands placed on first responders. Stella has her own personal challenge of forging a relationship with Ben Carson, the grandfather she never knew she had. He’s a powerful man who is both respected and feared by much of Sweet Pepper.
As J.J. Cook, the bestselling authors Jim and Joyce Lavene display practiced skill at crafting elaborate plots and evolving characters. The training, physical demands, and emotional burdens of a fire brigade are explored more than in previous entries. The political quagmire means Stella has to maneuver between a shady state representative candidate, a city council that controls her budget, and townspeople who revel in gossip. Her budding romance with a deputy was put to a stop by his explosive hatred of Ben, but fortunately it looks as though there is no dearth of suitors ready to step in. As Eric becomes the most stabilizing presence in her life, an unnerving conclusion ensures that readers will be anxious to see how Stella meets her next challenge. Sweet Pepper feels as real as the the characters, especially the late Eric Gamblyn. Readers will want more.
To enter to win a copy of In Hot Water, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Water,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 31, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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