Title: One Hot Summer
Author: Anita Waller
Published on: 25 August 2022
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Shannon and Adam are at one of their neighbor’s summer house when they hear a bang. The next bang engulfs them in flames. Both are dead in the next twenty seconds.
Shannon and Adam’s mothers had no clue their kids perished in the fire. They had come out to see when the summer house was on fire. They thought their kids were sleeping in their rooms. The next morning, they find the beds unslept and inform the police. DI Laura Henshall and DS Will Peters are called in to investigate the fire and they learn of the two charred remains found in the debris. It is that of Shannon and Adam.
The detectives start to investigate, questioning the victims’ friends at school. Was it a revenge attack gone wrong? Did the perps not know of Adam and Shannon’s presence in the summer house before throwing petrol bombs at it?
But soon, fires start cropping up in various summer houses – it’s the same M.O. – petrol bombs. The police suspect they are dealing with something bigger… something that could create a lot of panic in the city.
One Hot Summer by Anita Waller is an engrossing read. Though I did not like the detectives much – mostly because the DI and DS were a horny bunch, I liked the mystery behind the fires.
The story begins with Adam and Shannon up to something naughty in the summer house when they hear a bang. Soon, flames engulf the house and they are burned to death. DI Laura Henshall and DS Will Peters start to investigate the case.
The owner of the summer house was a dodgy fella and they suspect he had something to do with the fire. But with no concrete evidence against him, they have to let him go. Then, another summer house goes up in flames. Followed by another… and then some. When people start succumbing to injuries related to the fires, the police know for sure that the perps want to create maximum destruction in the city.
I liked the mystery behind the fires. The police have no clue as to who is causing them or why. They come across a couple of dead ends while investigating but one thing’s for sure… the perps mean serious business. Though it started as a harmless arson, it soon takes a turn for worse when body count starts to rise.
DI Henshall and DS Peters are in a relationship. I really do not mind when two detectives solve cases and have a love affair. But in this case, it was getting a bit too much because Peters and Henshall were always waiting for a chance to get into each other’s pants. If this wasn’t enough, after a long and tiring day of investigation, they were eagerly waiting for their ‘bedroom time’. Ugh! Two teenagers were killed in a fire! Nobody wants to know what the detectives were up to in their bedroom.
The identity of the killer was no surprise. There’s a twist in the second half of the story – something to do with the police and the fires. A particular character ticked all the boxes of ‘perp’ and I did wonder if they were involved in the fires. Turns out, I was right.
The ending was a bit unexpected and shocking because Henshall has to face a brutal fact. I felt a little sad for the trauma that she had to go through.
One other thing that caught my attention: when the fire incidents rise in number, Henshall asks for more policemen to join the search and her request is readily agreed. In almost all the police procedurals I have read so far, even in worst case scenario, the leading detective must work with limited manpower.
Overall, One Hot Summer by Anita Waller was a good read.
I received an ARC from Boldwood Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.