Arouse Suspicion

A Dime Novel Hero

His Unexpected Wife

Mail-Order Bride

Outlaw's Bride

To Find You Again

A Reason to Believe

A Reason to Live

Untamed Hero

Where There’s Fire
by Maureen McKade
(Berkley Sensation, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-425-22421-2
Detective Shoni Alexander, following in the footsteps of her deceased father, is with the Norfolk, Virginia Police Department. The novel opens as she is struggling to reconcile her mother's accidental death with the justice system she has committed her career to supporting. The drunk driver who killed her mother escaped successful prosecution due to a procedural error in the handling of his arrest. Shonif has purchased a Saturday night special and is obsessed with meting justice the only way she is convinced that remains.

At the same time she is the lead detective on a series of arsons that have burned three warehouses. The experts say the fires were set by the same perpetrator and Shoni is struggling to find the common denominator when a fourth fire occurs. This time the fire is in a rundown apartment building filled with low income dwellers. The man credited with emptying the apartment complex is someone Shoni had helped just that day when he was being worked over by a small group of thugs.

The man calls himself John McLane, and has been wandering the streets for weeks not knowing who he is. One of the tenants of that rundown apartment building had taken him in and nursed him back to health when she found him beaten and unconscious. McLane was trying to remove her six year old great granddaughter from the hands of her granddaughter's pimp, when Shoni first met him.

McLane had been living in a burned warehouse at the time that fire was set and had seen the arsonist. When he admits this to Shoni, she grabs him as her only eyewitness and plans to take him into the station in the morning to start through the process of trying to put a name with the face. Since he refuses medical care, she takes him back to her condo to spend the rest of the night.

Shoni pursues the identity of the arsonist as their mutual attraction grows. Interfering with this task is someone's sudden rush to kill either or both Shoni and McLane. The identity of the only person who died in the second warehouse fire is finally obtained and that information, together with the attempts on their lives, begins to dictate the direction they must look.

McKade is good at the construction of her characters, but her strength is her dialog and pacing which keeps the reader interested in a fairly ordinary plot line. The emotional torment of each character is predictable and becomes part of the process of the tortuous journey to the recovery of McLane's identity, the identification of the wrongdoers, and Shoni's resolution of her mother's death and her growing relationship with McClane.

These issues come to climax in a somewhat contrived fashion, but nonetheless leaving the reader with an easy and enjoyable read.

--Thea Davis

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