The Burning Spiral

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The Burning Spiral

Chicago homicide detective, Caroline 'Carly' Osych and her partner Bill Rashleigh are called to the scene of a bizarre murder. The victim has wounds like none they've ever seen, plus the victim, a suit and tie man, has a map tattooed on his face. They suspect the murder weapon came from a military research center nearby and make arrangements to meet with key personnel. Before the meeting can take place however, a huge explosion vaporizes a church. Because both the explosion and the murder are so strange so Carly and Bill work with colleagues to see if anything links the two events. During the meeting with the military research lab, Carly meets Colonel Benedict Lejeune, a widower with two sons, who admits a very powerful and unstable substance was stolen from the lab. A small fraction of the stolen substance could cause the type of explosion that had occurred. Clear to all are the horrific implications and the military joins the CPD in an attempt to regain control of the substance. Meanwhile, Carly has been emotionally crippled by her powerful ex-husband, Palmer Hugh Warren, who divorced her two-years earlier to marry a young heiress. Palmer, a lawyer with political aspirations and money, battled Carly for custody of their children until she was on the brink of bankruptcy. At that point she settled for seeing her kids one week-end a month, a fact that continues to enrage her. Palmer does everything he can to keep her angry and off-kilter. As the story progresses the body count grows, another blast pulverizes a chunk of land and the FBI joins the investigative team, taking over as the lead. Carly, Ben Lejeune, and Bill clash with the FBI as they all work together trying to piece together clues. Throughout the story a volatile romance develops between Carly and Lejeune. Lejeune challenges Carly's perception that she's done everything possible to win custody of her children, while Carly teaches Lejeune tolerance. The Burning Spiral is a first-rate whodunit that kept me up late reading. As a mystery fan, I'm used to reading about deranged serial killers and am happy to report this book concludes in it's own interesting way. However, I felt the end wasn't explained well enough and left me a bit frustrated. There is a nice romance in the novel as well, but it gets a late start and plays second fiddle to the mystery. Even so, the romance part is well done with a lot of growth for the lead characters.

Book Blurb for The Burning Spiral

A trip to the morgue in the middle of the night is routine work for Detective Sergeant Caroline Osych of the Chicago Police Department. The problem is that lately, every murder victim heading for the morgue is a young man named Michael who drives a Japanese import. The killer’s MO is troublesome too—five pounds of flesh vaporized from victims’ chests and a fluorescent map tattoo on their faces are not everyday occurrences.

Caroline must deal not only with the string of bizarre murders but a vengeful ex-husband, his alcoholic heiress child bride, a manipulative and sleazy FBI inspector and an enigmatic soldier with sexy blue eyes. The stark realization that the killer is not her contemporary is not nearly as terrifying as the seeping suspicion that the final and ultimate target may be her children, living with their father and his new wife.

Night Owl Reviews Aug, 2008 4.50