The Burning Men

Written by Will Shindler

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 27 crime and spy thrillers. 'Death at the Old Asylum', the 8th title in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, currently in ebook, comes out in paperback on the 14th March via Canelo Books. More information:

The Burning Men
Hodder and Stoughton
RRP: £16.99
Released: February 6 2020

A team of London Fire Brigade men walk into a burning building… and what they find changes their lives forever. Not long afterwards, the team members resign from their jobs.

Fast-forward five years and one of them, Adesh Kaul, now a businessman, is celebrating his lavish wedding. But his honeymoon never happens, because within minutes of the ceremony, he is deliberately burned to death in a hotel toilet.

For DI Alex Finn, still grieving for his wife, Karin, who recently died of cancer, it’s a welcome offer if a diversion from his grief. He’s having to get used to a new colleague, DC Mathilde Paulsen, transferred in from another station. With a reputation for focusing on work and with a level of remoteness from colleagues, Finn is well-matched by Paulsen. She has her own history and is hardly the warmest of people because of it. Finding her way in a new department, mostly staffed by men who are suspicious of her, it doesn’t help the team atmosphere, especially for Finn.

Shortly after the first death, another one occurs, also one of the LFB team. This man dies in his burning car, an event that looks to Finn and Paulsen just a little pointed. If it’s a vendetta, there are urgent questions that need answering. Do the deaths of two members of a previously close-knit team have any impact on the others? Why did all five men resign around the same time – and why do they no longer have any regular contact with each other? Do any answers lie in the burning building five from five years ago?

Meanwhile, the remaining team members are reconnecting, in fear of their lives and of what they did.

Soon other facts begin to emerge. A known money-launderer named Whitlock was found dead in the burning building by the firemen, this shortly after the hijacking of a security van near Stansted Airport. The contents of the van were never recovered, for which the local team of detectives was labelled inefficient. Behind it looms the presence of a career criminal figure named Spinney, thought to be the planner behind the van high-jack, and another man known as the Handyman, who has never been identified.

This is a truly multi-faceted story; of grisly murders which are obviously connected; of a historical high-jacking and theft, and the effects on a team of detectives who have failed to solve it and are now pressured by Finn’s new investigation; of the discovery by three former fire-fighters that something has come back to haunt them and may yet strike again. And there are the more personal burdens, too. For DI Finn, facing life without his wife is a huge loss. For DC Paulsen, there’s the coming to terms with an unspoken event in her own past which weighs her down and won’t allow her to connect with anyone else in her work and only barely in her private life. And one of the fire-fighters is carrying a burden of guilt he cannot let go.

Well-written, extremely tense and full of twists and vividly-drawn characters on both sides of the law, this is a story that will draw you in. The first in a series.


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