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The Burn

Review

The Burn

Just as she did in THE DIME, her first novel starring narcotics cop Betty Rhyzyk, Kathleen Kent opens THE BURN with a scene from Betty’s earlier years, this time when she was still a student at the police academy in Brooklyn. A disastrously failed ride-along with her older brother, also a cop, gave Betty the academy cadet an early glimpse at the temptations and repercussions of corruption for police officers, especially those working in narcotics.

Flash-forward 15 years to Dallas in 2014, where Betty is more than ready to resume active duty after the crippling injury that sidelined her at the end of THE DIME. She still has some healing to do, but has been religiously following her physical therapist’s advice and knows she’s ready to head back on the streets with her beloved partner, Seth.

"THE BURN is a great follow-up to THE DIME, as readers will gain further insight into Betty’s character and her circle of friends and colleagues."

But things will not go according to Betty’s plan. Her new sergeant doesn’t believe that she is physically or mentally ready to tackle the demands of police work. Instead, he assigns her to desk duty and mandatory sessions with the force’s psychiatrist, both prospects that Betty is dreading. Her anger starts to get the better of her, and since she can no longer participate in her preferred mode of anger management --- running every day --- she winds up taking her feelings out by drinking too much and being dismissive of her longtime girlfriend, Jackie, who has selflessly cared for Betty during her recovery.

However, being confined to a desk doesn’t mean that Betty can’t follow the current investigations in her department. When local drug dealers start turning up dead, in a way that perhaps seems connected to Betty’s earlier ordeal, she feels powerless to resist the urge to get involved. Soon she is conducting a shadow investigation of her own, one that not only could put her in danger but also could uncover secrets that Seth might not want anyone to learn.

THE BURN is a great follow-up to THE DIME, as readers will gain further insight into Betty’s character and her circle of friends and colleagues. At times, the network of drug dealers and informants can be difficult to follow, due in large part to their sheer number --- and few of them stick around long enough to become familiar because they keep getting killed. Nevertheless, it is a suspenseful mystery right up until the end --- and an effective exploration of trauma and its ongoing repercussions, not only for survivors but also for those who care about, and for, them.

As hinted at the novel’s opening, THE BURN also demonstrates the lure of corruption on cops --- even good, responsible ones --- especially when their work puts them in daily contact with drugs and drug dealers. Kent leaves one significant mystery open at the end, which will make readers eager to spend more time with Betty on her hard-fought journey.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on February 14, 2020

The Burn
by Kathleen Kent

  • Publication Date: February 11, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316450588
  • ISBN-13: 9780316450584