BLUE SMOKE (Romantic Thriller-Baltimore-Cont) – G+ Roberts, Nora – Standalone
Putnam, 2005- Hardcover

When Reena Hale was 12 years old, events lead to her family's restaurant being burnt by an arsonist. With that, Reena was determined to become an arson investigator with the Baltimore police. Other fires have touched those know to Reena, but now it has become very personal and very dangerous.

I am a huge fan of Ms. Roberts work and applaud her moving more into stories where the emphasis is more on the mystery than the romance. This was a well-crafted story, beginning when Reena is young and traveling through experiences in her life to present day. The excellent characters, relationships, dialogue and sense of place, along with the romance and intimate scenes that are the hallmark of Robert's writing are all here. The only problem I had was that you know the villain from the beginning, so it does diminish the element of suspense. Still, it is understandable that Reena doesn't put it together until the end and the final scenes bring the suspense into the story. There is graphic violence and profanity, but it's realistic and clear that Roberts did her research on fires. Roberts is an excellent writer who has a permanent place on my "must buy" list.

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