Book Review: Into The Fire by Rachael Blok
Even though this book starts with a dramatic helicopter crash, I really struggled to get into the action of it. It’s something of a locked room mystery, with the timeline rewinding to a couple days before the crash and a group of people gathering at an English country house preparing for the launch of a new tech widget they all have an interest in, whether designers or investors. It’s obvious from context that at least one of them has nefarious motives… but the reality is, they all do. It’s a question of which one of them is willing to kill to cover up their secrets.
With corporate espionage and modern-day slavery themes in the book - a Bangladeshi character almost killed in a factory fire is a major character - it can be pretty heavy going at times. It’s an international cast, with Dutch, Norwegian, Bangladeshi and English characters, and into this mix comes DCI Maarten Jansen, assigned to protect a Dutch politician whose outspoken stance on corporate working conditions has earned her a lot of enemies.
The problem is that I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters. Maarten himself barely seems to have any emotions, despite being surprised by one of the characters being an old lover and another one holding potential blackmail material over him. His wife Liv is delightful but barely gets any page time. And I’m not really sure who the protagonists were supposed to be. I quite liked Filip, the industrialist hopelessly in love with his movie-star wife but desperately afraid of losing her; Lois, the ethical inventor was also quite nice, but we barely got to spend any time with her, and she was so clueless about what was going on she frustrated me.
In theory this is a sort of locked-room mystery, but the reality is, there were a whole bunch of people coming and going. There were staff around all the time, most of whom never got the dignity of a name. The villain was one-dimensional and obvious from the start, attempting to seduce every woman and cuckold every man, and the secondary villain wasn’t a villain but a victim. Plus, the book teasingly set up Iqbal’s desperate hunt for his wife and then dropped a total deus ex machina at the end. The whole thing was a bit of a slog with characters I struggled to care about and an unsatisfying ending. Two stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.