You can probably imagine the reaction - firstly the blurb "oh no, extreme dislike segueing into romantic tension AGAIN". The front of the book - Stalker. Arsonist. Killer. "deep groaning". The opening lines where a young homeless girl is dying - not caring what happens to her if her much loved German Shepherd dog is dead - and we've got another thing that I struggle with - dog's in jeopardy / animal cruelty. But on the other hand there's an intriguing comment by Stuart MacBride, and the thought that I find it really hard to justify reading all about cruelty to people but struggle when it comes to animals (goodness knows that's a very personal stance, and most definitely not a comment on how other people choose to approach their reading choices!)
But start reading and there's something much more to TORCH. Anderson covers some pretty gruesome subject matter with a deftness of touch and a compassionate viewpoint for all of her characters that is well fleshed out for a book of such a small size (particularly in this day and age where door-stoppers seem to have taken over). TORCH is one of a series of books based around Dr Rhona MacLeod and there's enough smattering of backstory in this first edition to give you some idea of who she is, without necessarily pulling the emphasis away from the investigation - and from the story of Macrae into the bargain. Mind you, I'm not sure I'd be calling him just a hot-tempered misogynist - sure he is partly that - but he's also deeply troubled and damaged in his own right.
The plot behind the death of the young girl is complicated - there are other fires - there is obviously something deeply personal and threatening going on with the investigation, and that's perhaps the only quibble I'd have with TORCH - cruelty to animals where the author uses the events to provide some insight into somebody or something happening is one thing - but using it to prove how bad the already indefensibly bad are, jarred for this reader anyway.
Aside from that, albeit brief disappointment, there's also great kindness and some uplifting characters and events in TORCH and whilst I squirmed a lot throughout the book, it's a series I'll be seeking out.
Blood Red Roses (novella)