J.A. Nevling,
Burned: A Tragic Mystery
(Outskirts, 2008)

Life can change in an instant and, for the happy couple in this story, it changed in one afternoon. Sharon and Jim have a typical happy relationship; they have a 9-month-old daughter, Anna, and a life they both enjoy. When Sharon and her neighborhood friend, Katie, decide to have lunch one day, Jim is happy to stay home and take care of Anna. Unfortunately, an accident occurs and Anna and Jim are both hurt severely. Sharon feels the need to blame Jim and decides a separation is the only way she can cope.

Sharon moves and gives up her stay-at-home mommy status to work as an accountant in a nice firm. Her life is no longer happy and when someone tries to run her off the road one evening it seems someone wants to end her unhappy life.

The storyline seemed interesting enough; unfortunately, there are way too many things about it that ended up ruining what could have been a decent read.

The accident that injures Jim and Anna seemed far fetched and the reason behind it really wasn't Jim's fault. The fact that Sharon felt the need to blame him and be so cruel seemed out of character and exaggerated to me. But I tried to put myself in Sharon's shoes and tried to overlook this.

The dialogue in this book is really bizarre. Every time someone would talk I would find myself cringing and thinking, "Who talks like this?" There was no natural flow to conversations and not one character in this story felt like or spoke like a real person.

The mystery portion of the story was more than a little weak. I had pegged one of the culprits from the moment they entered into the story and before the mystery began. Also, the two detectives that are assigned to the case were like the Keystone Kopps. They bumble their way through the case with jokes that fall flat and questionable crime-solving skills. How they actually solved the case was the real mystery to me.

I never feel good about writing a negative review about a debut novel, but there really wasn't one thing about this book I feel I could rave about or recommend to another reader. It definitely lacks polish.

review by
Cherise Everhard

10 October 2009

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