Baptism in Fire
Elizabeth Sinclair
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1429 $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27499-4
Two years ago Rachel Lansing was working for the Orange Grove Police Department in Florida as an arson profiler. After an apartment fire that shattered her life, she relocated in Atlanta taking a job as a secretary to a construction contractor. Mysteriously, her daughter had disappeared from the scene of the fire, never having been found, and her husband Luke walked away from her unable to face his guilt at not being home that night.

Rachel’s new very dull life is interrupted when A.J. Branson, the Chief of Detectives in her old department, calls to try and persuade to return for just one job. The county has had several fires, which were similar to her fire. Rachel’s memory of her own fire was hazy at best. She was found in a closet, hands tied behind her, and a Bible cutting into her chest. Traces of chloroform had been found on her. The current fire patterned itself after hers, but she was the only victim who survived.

Rachel has finally reconciled herself to the fact that her young daughter Maggie is dead. She also has not gotten over the loss of her husband Luke and the possibility that he blames her for the loss of their daughter.

She is guilted into using her vacation to help the department, notwithstanding the fact that her ex-husband Luke is one of their most successful detectives, although he had not exactly been rule-bound when she had worked with him before.

Rachel arrives, the confrontation with Luke occurs, the task force forms and the work begins. From a reader’s point of view this has the makings of a very often-used plot line.

However, Elizabeth Sinclair has expertly crafted believable characters with sufficient depth to remove them from the standard angst filled principals. The rekindling of an old romance is credible and the sexual tension smolders in tune with the suspense line.

Other stories sometimes have the same advantages, but what distinguishes Baptism in Fore is the plot does not go where you expect. The analysis of a criminal or disturbed mind is comprised of educated guesses, but that process, as set forth here, is not only interesting but also logical. Just when you think you have the “fire investigator” plots figured out, a story like this one comes along.

Baptism in Fire is strongly recommended.

--Thea Davis

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