Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What Fire Brings by Rachel Howzell Hall

Title: What Fire Brings
Series: n/a
Author: Rachel Howzell Hall
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Thriller
Publisher/Publication Date: Thomas & Mercer; June 11, 2024

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A writer’s search for her missing friend becomes a real-life thriller in a twisting novel of suspense by the New York Times bestselling author of These Toxic Things.

Bailey Meadows has just moved into the remote Topanga Canyon home of thriller author Jack Beckham. As his writer-in-residence, she’s supposed to help him once again reach the bestseller list. But she’s not there to write a thriller—she’s there to find Sam Morris, a community leader dedicated to finding missing people, who has disappeared in the canyon surrounding Beckham’s property. The missing woman was last seen in the drought-stricken forest known for wildfires and mountain lions. Each new day, Bailey learns just how dangerous these canyons are—for the other women who have also gone missing here…and for her. Could these missing women be linked to strange events that occurred decades ago at the Beckham estate? As fire season in the canyons approaches, Bailey must race to unravel the truth from fiction before she becomes the next woman lost in the forest.

I’ve read one of Rachel Howzell Hall’s novels before, so I was interested in checking out her latest thriller.

What Fire Brings, the story of Bailey Meadows, who’s investigating the disappearance of a woman at the residence of a thriller writer. It provided a nice starting point, which immediately plunged the character into an unfamiliar setting with people she might or might not be able to trust. With the low to no internet access or phone service, despite being in Topanga Canyon on an expensive estate—not far from L.A.—the setting had an almost isolated atmosphere to it. Not going to lie: it was an interesting set up, especially with how quick the story introduced the players and pointed toward its overarching mystery.

And it was thrilling, for the most part. For me, however, the middle of the story got a little shaky; especially after how much I enjoyed the way Hall set up the circumstances of the mystery and Bailey’s motivation. At times I was frustrated with her, especially where it seemed there wasn’t much progress being made on the disappearance she was supposed to be investigating. And it felt a little like some clues just kind of fell into place or were a little muddled (there was a reason for this, so I’m glad I stuck with the story). That being said, What Fire Brings was highly readable with a couple of big—and very smart—twists toward the final stretch of the book, which made all the pieces click together. Nothing was as it first appeared. And, ultimately, the story was far more sinister, dark, and tragic than I initially suspected.

So despite the few aspects about the book I was lukewarm on, overall what was good about What Fire Brings outweighed the rest. And, ultimately, I liked this thriller.
About the author....
RACHEL HOWZELL HALL l is the critically acclaimed author and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist for And Now She’s Gone, which was also nominated for the Lefty-, Barry-, Shamus- and Anthony Awards and the Audible Originals bestseller How It Ends. A New York Times bestselling author of The Good Sister with James Patterson, Rachel is an Anthony-, International Thriller Writers- and Lefty Award nominee and the author of They All Fall Down, Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes and City of Saviors in the Detective Elouise Norton series. Her next thriller, These Toxic Things, out in September 2021, recently received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, calling the novel ‘cleverly-plotted’ and ‘a refreshing take on the serial killer theme.’ Rachel is a former member of the board of directors for Mystery Writers of America and has been a featured writer on NPR’s acclaimed Crime in the City series and the National Endowment for the Arts weekly podcast; she has also served as a mentor in Pitch Wars and the Association of Writers Programs. Rachel lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. For more information, visit

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Thomas & Mercer) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

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