As an EMT, Ellie has seen a lot of tragedy. But the morning she gets called to the scene of a shooting quickly develops into her worst nightmare. Broadlands is a small sleepy town. It’s not known for its gun violence, so surely Ellie must have heard wrong when the dispatcher said someone had been shot. As Ellie’s ambulance rushes toward the scene of the crime, she realizes she recognizes the address. It’s her sister’s house.
Emily Bleeker’s novel, Working Fire, starts off with the adrenaline-fueled rush needed for a strong suspenseful plotline. Over the course of the story, the reader will get to know both sisters, Ellie and Amelia, as the book alternates between their points-of-view. Amelia’s story is told in flashbacks leading up to the shooting, while Ellie’s point of view is in the present, as she attempts to uncover what happened before she arrived and discovered her sister lying in a pool of blood.
There were only three people at the scene of the crime that morning, and none of them seem to be able to explain what happened. Amelia is now in a coma, and it’s unclear whether she will ever recover. Amelia’s husband, Steve, has also been shot and injured. While he is recovered enough to talk a little about the experience, he isn’t able to give any details about what happened. The third person now lies in a body bag in the morgue, and Ellie may have to do her own sleuthing to find out who he is.
The only other person who might know what happened is Caleb. He is one of the employees of Steve’s roofing company. He is also Amelia’s ex-boyfriend from high school, and some would say he never really got over losing her.
Ellie is horrified to discover that Caleb is the police’s prime suspect, especially since he’s her fiancé’s brother. But when the only person who may know the truth about what happens appears to have fled town, Ellie finds herself questioning not only her sister’s past relationship, but also what she is marrying into. And you thought the small town where you grew up had drama.
Bleeker is a master at the alternating point-of-view. Each chapter leaves you on a cliff-hanger begging for more, only to switch over to the other sister’s POV for perspective. While Working Fire could easily be classified in the thriller/suspense genre, the book also has a strong base of family drama. Amelia and Ellie’s relationship as sisters is realistic and relatable, as is their relationship with their invalid father and their flawed significant others. Sometimes someone’s happy married life isn’t all it appears to be, and even someone as close as your sister may not know the whole truth.
The plot of the book surges forward at breakneck speed, and I truly wavered on the identity and motive of the shooter until the very end. In fact, some might still be left wavering after the final chapter, as Bleeker winds down the plot with just as many questions as answers. The fast-paced conclusion left me reeling slightly and also wondering whether a sequel, or at least a more thorough epilogue, might be in order to truly provide some closure on the mystery I spent over 350 pages puzzling over.
That being said, I would not have craved more if I did not enjoy the dynamic female characters and suspenseful plot already in place, and I would definitely recommend Working Fire to anyone looking for a thrilling way to cap off their summer reading list.
Photo courtesy of Emily Bleeker