Review: Burning Man by Alan Russell

4 Stars

Michael Gideon is a LAPD cop who became a reluctant hero and celebrity along side his K-9 partner, Sirius, when they shot to fame by capturing a notorious serial killer in the midst of a raging wildfire.  For their heroism, and continued PR appearances for the LAPD, they are chosen to head up the new Special Cases Unit.  They are picked to take on the more unusual and unexplained cases.  Given almost full autonomy, Gideon can’t pass up the chance to work together with his partner without all the red tape and bosses breathing down your neck.  Perfect job for someone who is still trying to fight his own inner demons that have been haunting him since the night he and Sirius captured the serial killer known as the Weatherman, a man still haunting his dreams.

Those dreams that haunt Gideon also provide him unexplained information.  He will wake from his dreams where he is walking through fire again, actually feeling the flames and the pain of the fire.  He will also wake with unusual and unexplained insights into the cases that he is working on.  A skill that he and Sirius need to learn to trust in so they can not only solve this case, but also save a bit of themselves in the process.

In their first Special Case, a teenager is found crucified in a city park.  There are few clues and a whole lot of questions.  Who would go to such lengths to not only kill this young man, but to give further insult by crucification?  At the same time, another case appears that is close to Gideon’s heart.  An infant is found dead, left in a box by what seems to be an uncaring mother.  This discovery plays havok on Gideon’s PTSD and hits very close to home, as he was a foundling, dropped off as an infant in the parking lot of a church.  Gideon must face his own inner demons as he unravels the threads of these cases.

While the dialog is a little sophomoric at times, the wit and sarcasm of Michael Gideon does make up for it at times.  He reminds me a bit of Harry Bosch or even Harry Dresden.  His sarcasm is biting and his wit is quick.  His jokes and sarcasm hide the insecurity and the PTSD, you can see the defense mechanism at work and it makes him all the more human.  I wish the interaction with Sirius was a little more pronounced, he seems to spend an awful lot of time in the car.

The connection that he has with the serial killer called the Weatherman is never fully explained and it more than a little creepy.  It reminds me at times of the relationships that Hannibal Lecter had with his victims and those who brought him down.  Definitely a bit of a creep factor there.  I’m hoping that this gets fleshed out and explained in subsequent novels.

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Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

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