In a crime novel reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe, a body is found walled up in the Sheffield mansion of scandalous financier Gerald Cartwright years after his disappearance. Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler hopes to solve the case to revive his career and perhaps redeem his father's disgraced name. The only trouble is, he accidentally slept with Cartwright's college-aged son the other night; this only complicates the already dense web of lies and misdeeds. Meanwhile, Cartwright associates begin turning up dead, all at the hands of a dangerous pyromaniac, escalating the violent mystery Tyler and ambitious constable Amina Rabbani must untangle.
Russ Thomas's debut novel is a crackling, dark mystery perfect for fans of David Peace's Red Riding series and the works of Kate Atkinson. He writes with empathy for (as well as a necessary judgment of) the sins of the past coming back to consume perpetrator and victim alike. In this aspect, Cartwright's blackmailed neighbor Lily is the most painful example, her dementia eating away at even her knowledge of why she would be targeted in the first place.
Firewatching is a superbly written thriller that promises to keep readers on the edge of their seats guessing at the true culprit. As this is the first in a projected Adam Tyler series, readers can look forward to more mysteries from Thomas with this caliber of prose, suggesting a long and healthy career. --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer