Yes, I'm reviewing a manuscript. I'm not sure many people have done this on blogs, so - here goes! (I think I'll call this 'book PREviews'.)
Where There's Smoke is an Irish mystery by Cathy Cole. The story follows firefighter Jo Woods as she races to uncover the arsonist who has a distinctive signature and keeps one step ahead of her -- until he turns his attention to getting her off his heels.
Where There's Smoke is very well written. The pacing is right. The twists are unpredictable. All the bits are tied up nicely in the end. It is as any good mystery should be.
Throughout the ms Cathy kept the reader right along side Jo as she pieces together the clues and makes sense of them.
Cathy eases her readers into the story with the first word by putting them inside the breathing suit, looking through the mask at an inferno of flames and smoke, while Jo and her partner frantically search the house for the sleeping family. Jo ignores the call to get out, then is thrown to the grown from the second story by the explosion. That'll teach her to not listen. (I might have misused the word 'eases'?)
Jo isn't the only one who doesn't listen. She is sure she saw something that fits with other 'accidental' house fires, tying them together. Not only will no one listen to her, she doesn't know who to trust. You have to admit it takes a well informed arsonist to make fires look like accidents to the fire inspector. Maybe they are accidents. She did hit her head hard in the explosion.
I love Cathy's wordsmith abilities. Rather than long, boring bios of the characters, she tells the readers exactly what they need to know - and nothing more than needed at the time: Flanders is the type of guy who could start a war in heaven.
And look how smoothly Cathy transitions from telling to showing in this bit: Voices were screaming her name. Saying it over and over again until it rolled into one confused word.
‘Jo! Jo! Jojojojo!’
I've read WTS twice now. The first time was a year ago and it needed a few rewrites. In this reading the rewrites have tightened the pace and the story beautifully.
Both times I couldn't figure out who the antagonist was until the very end as the cast of suspects was weeded out one-by-one in the final few pages, while the brigade rushes to save a family from the cunning fires of the murderous arsonist.
Not to offend anyone, but I have never read a better manuscript - not even mine (and I'm a damn good writer). That is why I pleaded with Cathy to let me write a review.
You'll have to watch for this one. It is sure to get published. I hope it comes to America too. It is an amazing read. Well done, Cathy!
Quirky? Will it catch on? I'm just wondering. So what do you think of the idea of an MS review? I might do a couple of them this year.