Author: Alan Russell
Published By: Thomas & Mercer
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Some time ago, I downloaded a book and received a credit for another book for free. I decided to choose Burning Man. I had no idea what the book was about, but the cover looked interesting. Yes, I did choose a book by its cover, but would that decision pan out?
It all begins on a nasty night in Los Angeles. The Santa Ana winds are blowing strong, fanning the flames of a fire believed to be set by a serial killer known as The Strangler. Thanks to the fire, the LAPD is having trouble catching up to The Strangler. They call in the K-9 unit. Enter Michael Gideon and his police dog partner Sirius. The two somehow find a way to track the serial killer down, but finding him and getting back out of the inferno he started are two different stories.
Unlikely heroes, Gideon and Sirius survive their ordeal, but not without scars. Injuries in the form of severe burns among others, sideline the partners. The Strangler, also burned, finds himself behind bars and, despite his monstrous acts of murder, gains a cult following. Meanwhile, Gideon suffers from horrific dreams in which he relives the burning over and over again.
But Gideon doesn’t want to be counted out of the game. Since losing his wife, being a cop is all he has. He decides to use his celebrity as leverage and earns a spot on the newly formed Special Cases Unit, created for the out of the ordinary cases. At present, he is embroiled in two special cases: one, an abandoned baby that reminds him of his past and the other, a high school teenager from a high profile family murdered and crucified in a park. In seeking out the perpetrators in these cases, Gideon begins to learn something about himself. But will these cases bring some healing to the detective or end up hastening his demise?
When I finally set down to reading Burning Man, I worried if this was going to be one of those boring detective novels with a brash leading man and played out detective noir lines. After reading through a couple of chapters, I realized I had nothing to worry about. The character of Michael Gideon is actually quite likable - a man who has suffered great loss and trauma and somehow manages to fight his way back into the land of the living and feeling. Alan Russell is a gifted writer that manages to make us love the crime fighting team of Gideon and Sirius.
I enjoyed reading about Gideon's healing as much as I did solving the double mystery of the novel. In fact, I found myself enjoying the book so much, I was loathe to put it down. Though the Weatherman character reminded me of the main bad guy in The Following, Burning Man was not a played out story with an easy to solve mystery. This book left me guessing until the very last chapters, all the while rooting for Gideon in his new career and his home life.
When I finished reading Burning Man, I remarked to a friend how much I would enjoy reading a sequel. Good thing I won't have to wait long. As luck would have it, there is a sequel - Guardians of the Night - and I can't wait to check it out!