|Melting Point is veteran writer Debra Cowan’s second novel in her “Hot Zone” series featuring cooperation between the police department and the fire department handling suspected arson cases. These shared responsibilities are brought into play when arson is accompanied by murder.
In the suburban town of Presley, Oklahoma, the fire department has lost four firefighters to murder in as many months. Fireman Collier McClain is to assume his new duties as assistant to the fire investigator on the coming Monday. But when responding to a fire at a warehouse, the firefighter directly in front of him is killed by a sniper’s bullet in the back.
Fires were set after two of the earlier murders to cover them. And now two murders have occurred while fighting a fire. Since Collier is there at the scene, he joins forces with Kiley Russell, the eleven year
detective assigned to the cases.
During the three month investigation, Kiley has identified suspects that all the victims have interacted with. The new victim, Lazano, also shares a history with these same suspects. But in addition to that, Lazano was responsible for the shattering of Collier’s engagement.
Discovering his fiancée’s affair with Lazano resulted in Collier’s new attitude of a playboy who loves them and leaves, never to trust again. He, of course, is drop dead handsome and has been somewhat smitten with Kiley since the Christmas party.
Kiley also has major trust issues since her father and her only serious boyfriend had been great womanizers to the point of extreme hurt and embarrassment. Although she is attracted to Collier, she is using the technique of mind over lust as their investigation progresses.
Debra Cowan’s greatest strength is her vibrant and multi-layered characters which can carry a novel with even a weak plot. However, the cooperative efforts of the departments lend a freshness to law
enforcement stories that overrides this story’s somewhat contrived conclusion.
Additionally, Kiley has too much inner dialogue about her trust issues. As their relationship matures the novel gathers steam.
In the final analysis, Debra Cowan can be counted on to vary her pacing, balance her characters’ point of views with entertaining dialogue, thus fashioning an enjoyable summer read.