One year ago, a brutal case almost destroyed three cops. Since then they've lost touch with one another, avoiding painful memories, content to go their own ways. Now Nolan is after a serial rapist. Hart is working on a string of arsons. And Tain has been assigned to a series of child abductions, a case all too similar to that one. But when the body of one of the abduction victims is found at the site of one of the arsons, it starts to look like maybe these cases are connected after all ....
WHAT BURNS WITHIN is the first in a series featuring Vancouver based police officers by Canadian Author (and co-founder of Spinetingler Magazine) Sandra Ruttan. Starting out at breakneck pace, WHAT BURNS WITHIN barely stops for breath, starting with a child abduction, following up with a number of rape investigations, the discovery of a child's body at the site of an arson attack, a rape connected to a firefighter at that scene, and then, with terrifying rapidity more little girls go missing. As the speed of the events hastens, the connections between the crimes start to appear.
One of the things that struck this reader, at least, from the very start was how populated with people and events this book was. WHAT BURNS WITHIN incorporates a complex set of cases that each bring with them a victim (firmly centre stage in many); a series of investigation teams working with and around our central characters; witnesses; family members and other involved parties. This cast, along with Ruttan's style of writing, gives the book an interesting feel - almost crowded, enclosed, tense but controlled, pressured but not necessarily frantic. It's that sense of a large cast swirling around the investigators, that seems to give WHAT BURNS WITHIN part of its depth - it shows the size or range of the impact of the crimes investigated here.
Mind you, the focus on each of the elements is held up throughout the book, the connections maintained, there is nothing left behind. The police procedural aspects of the case are solid, believable and they support the cast of characters as they deal with what is, after all, a very horrific series of crimes. The three central characters are also well rounded both in their own right and as a group that have been through some difficult experiences and are working out what that means to them.
WHAT BURNS WITHIN is certainly no walk in the park, it's edgy, sharp, brutal in places. Complex but not complicated, WHAT BURNS WITHIN is one hell of a ride.