For firefighters, the job is an obsession both good and bad. In Smoke by Catherine McKenzie, we are drawn into the drama of Elizabeth who has changed to a quieter life. She still works, not in the middle of big firestorms, but as an arson investigator. Yet life is not as tranquil as she had hoped. She and her husband have agreed to a divorce, and an old friend, Mindy, is feeling estranged from her own family.
When a fire starts in the nearby forest and begins to spread, Elizabeth finds herself back in the inferno, trying to help those who are struggling as well as a resident that has lost his home. The event consumes her; she is back with a purpose that calls to her.
When the gossip of her small town changes to an accusation, it changes the direction of her own life. Both Elizabeth and her friend Mindy find their lives may be out of their own control. Can they find the lost pieces of their past before the fire consumes their true individuality, and can they hold on to hope as the fire rages ever closer?
McKenzie takes us into the world of firefighting and danger. She does a great job with her characters, for you can imagine them as you turn the pages. The smell of smoke and the heady excitement and dread of danger eke from the bindings, and you are pulled into the lives of both Elizabeth and Mindy as they try to pick up the pieces of their life and move on.
The danger of the fires is both unnerving and dangerous, and McKenzie does a great job of helping us to realize just how dangerous the wrath of nature can be when fire consumes all and moves at such great speed. She introduces us to the other cast, the members fighting the fires and putting their lives on the line, as she takes us on a journey of growth.
If you enjoy mystery and danger, tied with romance and growth, you will enjoy this work. Watching how McKenzie uses the danger to change outcomes and personalities is interesting and hopeful, yet also breeds a feeling of hopelessness that must be overcome.
This would be a great book for a reading group or book club with plenty of certitude for discussion.