Thank you NetGalley and Quercus for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A pandemic called “The Sweats” is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr. Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie search for Simon’s killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of a dying city and a race with death.
I had such high hopes for A Lovely Way to Burn but I just found it to be a “meh” read. While I thought the premise was interesting with it’s combination of a plague story and murder mystery, as an actual completed work the two themes never came together. Part of the problem was I found Stevie’s determination to discover who was behind Simon’s death admirable, but ultimately unbelievable. Society is literally coming apart at the seams as more and more people fall victim to “The Sweats”. The public is panicking and the government and medical establishment are pretty much helpless in the face of this plague. Stevie becomes ill but somehow she survives. We’re supposed to believe that instead of fleeing London for somewhere safer, she’s going to put herself in further danger by investigating the death of a man whom she had entered into a recent relationship with and didn’t really know much about. I also had a difficult time connecting with Stevie as the protagonist. She’s likable enough, but I thought many of her actions just didn’t make sense, and her reactions to the larger catastrophe unfolding downright annoying. What did work was the the actual plague story, which I feel the author should have focused on more. The murder mystery is solved at the end, so it’s left me wondering if the next story will be a pure apocalyptic novel. Overall I found A Lovely Way to Burn to be a disjointed story burdened by a contrived mystery and some rather awkward dialogue. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the trilogy.