As a forest fire threatens to destroy the small community of Nelson, former friends, Elizabeth and Mindy find themselves at a crossroads in their lives. Having spent ten years fighting fires, and frequent long periods of time apart from her husband Ben as a result of her job, Elizabeth has decided to settle down in an attempt to rebuild her faltering marriage. Now as the arson investigator in charge of determining the cause of the fire, she must face her transgressions and insecurities and clear the smoke from her mind to get to the truth in terms of the fire, but also uncover her true feelings and determine if in fact her marriage is worth saving.
Mindy, loving wife to Peter and doting mother to Angus and Carrie, feels disconnected from her family and the person she used to be before a family crisis, and the resulting stress and fear, left her emotionally debilitated. After reading about John Phillips, an elderly man who has lost his home because of the fire, Mindy wants to help him and sees this as her chance at redemption. As an opportunity to redefine herself once again and feel connected to her family and community. While she works to raise money for the victims, Mindy inadvertently stumbles into Elizabeth’s investigation and discovers a disturbing secret, that if uncovered could destroy her loving family.
On more than one occasion I found myself remarking that Catherine McKenzie’s writing style in Smoke was very reminiscent of the talented Jodi Picoult. The writing in Smoke is intelligent and thoughtful, yet pleasantly simple and light, which lends remarkably well to an easy and enjoyable read. As with her previous novels, Catherine McKenzie has eloquently and realistically captured the complicated and messy human emotions that consume and guide our thoughts and actions. The characters are complex and authentic, good-intentioned yet flawed, as we all are, and I think that this is one of the reasons Catherine McKenzie’s novels keep readers coming back for more. I know that this is what brings me back each and every time.
Smoke was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I recommend it to one and all. Check out Catherine McKenzie’s other bestselling novels:
I give Smoke 4/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Catherine McKenzie for providing me a free advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.