A Fiery Murder


Fiction - Suspense
310 Pages
Reviewed on 06/05/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

A Fiery Murder by Debra Ison is a suspenseful crime novel with strong characters and an interesting plot. Sam and Sarah Richards are living in Serendipity Farm in Central Kentucky — a perfect escape from the corporate life in Chicago — while awaiting the birth of their first child and it is here, with the help of Mac Osborne, that they start an equine therapy program for foster children. Justin, one of the teens in the program, catches their attention in a particular way. Justin has lost both his parents — his father missing in Afghanistan and his mother killed in a car crash. A series of arson attacks that results in death sweeps through the community and Justin is accused by a witness. While he is arrested and kept in a detention facility, Sam and Sarah believe in his innocence. And while they look for evidence to prove his innocence, the arsonist is planning something more sinister.

Debra Ison writes in prose that is captivating and features very interesting characters. From the beginning, the reader is acquainted with a nameless arsonist, a character who walks under cover of night with a backpack and sets a house on fire. I was intrigued to find out who this character was and the description would later fit the young Justin, a device in the writing that creates suspense and sows seeds of doubt in the minds of readers. The key characters are an interesting couple settled in a rural environment, a life they seem to enjoy because of the quiet and the rhythm that contrasts with Sam’s corporate life. The conflict is well-established — a youngster they have become fond of is accused and arrested for a crime they believe he never committed. The reader wants to find out who the real arsonist and murderer is and wonders as they turn from page to page if Justin will be freed. A Fiery Murder is deftly plotted and beautifully written. The characters are real and readers quickly learn to like them. An example of excellent writing craft and hugely entertaining.

Louanne Piccolo

A Fiery Murder by Debra Ison is about Sarah Richards and her husband Sam who, after a financial windfall, give up the corporate lifestyle to buy a farm in Central Kentucky. Their dream is to host an equine therapy program for children in the foster system. Despite expecting their first child, they become attached to Justin, a young teenager whose father has disappeared in Afghanistan and whose mother has recently died in a car accident, and decide to become his foster parents.

Justin is delighted to escape his current foster home and settles into his new life with ease. Unfortunately, an arsonist, who is hard at work in the small community, has set a fire resulting in the death of a victim. Justin, bearing a resemblance to the young arsonist, is mistakenly identified as the person who has been terrorizing the town over the last year. Sam and Sarah must find evidence to free Justin from juvenile detention. Will they succeed before the real arsonist strikes again?

Debra Ison has written a suspenseful novel that will lead you on a thrilling ride. The writing style is conventional, the tone dramatic and the characters relatable – just the right combination to keep readers turning the pages. There is nothing I didn’t enjoy in this novel with its strong sense of place and endearing characters. Both adults and young adults will enjoy A Fiery Murder which takes a look at the dangerous world children live in when the very people who should be protecting them cannot be trusted.

K.C. Finn

A Fiery Murder is a suspenseful work of crime and mystery fiction penned by author Debra Ison. The central characters are Sam and Sarah Richards, a seemingly ordinary couple who are expecting their first child but they also work with foster children and horses in their rural farming home in Kentucky. They offer to foster teenage Justin, but when a series of dangerous fire attacks begin, the finger of blame falls on the young man. The title episode of the novel occurs when one of the fires causes a death, and it becomes the duty of Sam and Sarah to defend Justin and find the real culprit before another killing happens.

This novel is part family saga and part mystery drama, which will appeal to a wide audience who enjoy character-led fiction and strong plot twists with suspenseful moments in between. Author Debra Ison puts a lot of hard work into the details of the farm, making some very sweet moments come alive with the couple and the horses, then juxtaposing those with dark scenes of fire and destruction. The tension builds well as the plot picks up the pace, moving from getting acquainted with the characters to wondering whether you actually really know them at all. Justin, as a central focal point, presents some thought-provoking moments about how society looks at foster kids in the system and prejudges them. Overall, A Fiery Murder is a well written and intriguing mystery with plenty of extra details and issues surrounding it.

Amanda Rofe

A Fiery Murder by Debra Ison is Volume 3 of the Sarah Richards Mysteries series in the suspense genre. Although a stand-alone novel, it continues the story of the turbulent lives of Sarah and Sam Richards. As they settle into their new home on a farm in Central Kentucky, they begin to realize their ambition of setting up an equine therapy program for troubled children. Justin, one of the visiting teenagers, becomes very close to the couple. He recently lost his mother in a car accident and is waiting to hear about his father who is a soldier missing in action in Afghanistan. Just as things are settling down for the boy, he is mistaken for an arsonist responsible for a spate of fires in the area. This results in his arrest and detention in a grim facility where his life is put in danger. Sarah and Sam struggle to prove his innocence but will they succeed?

Despite the gritty storyline, this is an uplifting tale. I very much liked the clean writing which meant no gratuitous violence, sex or profanity. The characters are extremely likable and even the true villain of the story was somebody I could empathize with. Debra Ison pens an absorbing novel with an inbuilt feel-good factor. There is a sense of anticipation over several issues, including Sarah's pregnancy and Justin's arrest. All this angst is tempered with the satisfying feeling that good will prevail despite evidence pointing to the contrary. A Fiery Murder is an honest book combining a decent amount of mystery with a generous dollop of suspense. Ideal to take away for a summer read or for a cozy night in front of the fire.

Edith Wairimu

In A Fiery Murder by Debra Ison, tragedy strikes in fifteen-year-old Austin Moreland’s life. The world he has grown accustomed to is suddenly torn apart after his mother dies and his father is listed as missing in action while on a mission to Afghanistan. Austin joins the unpromising foster program and soon finds himself under Mrs. McFadden’s care. Life with her plunges him into further misery. To Mrs. McFadden, what counts with every child under her care is the money she is able to keep from the program. The children’s welfare is the least of her concerns. Things get better for Austin when he joins an equine therapy program ran by Sam and Sarah Richards, a couple who has recently moved to Central Kentucky. Still, as everything starts to look hopeful, Austin’s uncertain world is struck by disaster again.

The plot in A Fiery Murder by Debra Ison follows closely the events in Austin’s life. This ensures that the story remains focused and only includes sub-plots that add to the main plot. Attention is divided effectively between the protagonists and antagonists, which gives the story balance. The work also explores the loopholes in the foster program and how adults contribute to destructive children and teen behavior. It also suggests ways in which children and young adults in the foster care system can be encouraged to participate in activities that aid their healing and growth. Debra Ison expertly interconnects scenes to create suspense while covering crucial themes. This work will resonate with both young adults and older readers as it offers eye-opening lessons.