Into the Fire starts with a literal bang. A helicopter crash lands onto the lawn of the manor house it was due to arrive at, bursting into oily flames around the unlucky occupants. Will any of them get out alive? What happened to make it fall from the sky in such a way? It’s certainly an attention-grabbing way to start a book and it was so descriptive and tense, that I was thoroughly hooked, right from that unexpected start.
Set in St. Albans, this novel is an Agatha Christie-esque version of a closed-room mystery novel where all the events occur in one place; in this case it’s a large country home belonging to sisters Ebba and Lois who have gathered together their investors prior to the launch of their new venture: Archipelago, a virtual reality game. One of Archipelago’s major selling points is that the game has been produced ethically, from start to finish, making a stance against the exploitation of workers and intellectual property. This is a Big Thing causing waves in the tech community and getting them masses of positive publicity and also some unwanted attention. Amongst the eleven high-profile guests are a politician who has been receiving death threats for her support of the anti-exploitation movement, some glamorous Brits, a successful Dutch banker and his aloof movie star wife, and an abrasive Swedish financier. DCI Jansen is assigned to Marieke – the politician – as her security protocol and early on we learn that they have somewhat of a past, and this storyline plays out alongside the main themes. There are lots of little connections between these people, some more obvious than others. With all these characters effectively locked up in a house together and millions of pounds at stake, what on earth could go wrong?
Well, quite a lot it seems, as first a member of the group is attacked, quickly followed by a murder – but you’ll have to read it to find out what happens next. It’s a slow-burner, but the hints are there if you can read between the lines. Even if you can’t, you’ll enjoy flip-flopping between each character, wondering who is behind this dastardly behaviour. They’ve all got backstories, and reasons, and although at times I did think there were a few too many weird connections between this small group of people it didn’t spoil any of the enjoyment of the book for me. A great read.
I read an advance copy of this book with the Pigeonhole book club and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Publish date: 1 April 2021
About the Author: Rachael Block
Rachael Blok is a best-selling author of the UK crime series set in the cathedral city of St Albans. Here, DCI Maarten Jansen struggles against his plain-speaking Dutch upbringing when faced with the seemingly polite world of the picturesque city. Under the Ice and The Scorched Earth are out now. Into The Fire was released in April 2021.
About writing, she has said: ‘I’m constantly surprised how differently stories turn out on paper than in their original planning. Fiction has a life of its own‘.