Flame Out: A Novel (The June Lyons Series) by M.P. Cooley (William Morrow, $24.99, 304 pages)
M.P. Cooley’s second novel Flame Out features police officer and former FBI agent, June Lyons.
When an old apparel factory burns down, a body is discovered, which initially is thought to be that of former owner Bernie Lawler’s wife, Luisa, who was murdered and whose body was never recovered. The incident takes the reader back to the original murder (covered in Cooley’s Ice Shear), which was originally investigated by June’s father.
Flame Out starts with June flirting with the idea of returning to the FBI, and – about a third of the way through – her parents split and the characters’ subsequent complicated relationships are introduced; something which does little to appreciably advance the story.
A line toward the end, “You do not need to kill your mother’s killer. I already did,” based on context and delivery is an example of the generally good writing found in this novel. The plot is carefully constructed and the story is told almost exclusively in dialogue. This can be a plus or a minus, depending on the reader. This reviewer would have preferred a bit more variety in the telling.
Flame Out starts out with a great deal of promise, but mostly smolders. It is a good book; unfortunately, it is not a great one.
Recommended, based on the author’s potential.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Dave Moyer is an education administrator in Illinois, and is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.