Friday, August 5, 2011

Rereading City of Fire by Robert Ellis

City of Fire (Lena Gamble Novels)The backstory: I first read City of Fire in the summer of 2007 and fell in love with it. I went on to read its sequel, The Lost Witness, as soon as it was released in February of 2009. When word broke of a third book, Murder Season, in this fantastic series, I knew I wanted to re-read the first two before Murder Season comes out in December.

The basics: Lena Gamble, a Los Angeles homicide detective, still mourns the loss of her older brother, a musician, five years ago. His murder remains unsolved, but Lena is busy trying to solve a new string of grisly murders.

My thoughts: When I sat down to reread City of Fire, I was curious how it would go. I don't often re-read novels, and I thought I remembered what happened. I soon found myself gripped with this tightly-wound narrative and thoroughly enjoying its intricacies. Robert Ellis is a masterful plotter, pacer and storyteller. I knew what happened, and I was still on the edge of my seat.

What I soon discovered was that although I remembered much of the novel, there were an increasing number of details I had forgotten. I was simultaneously enjoying the frame of a story I know well and feeling as though I was experiencing part of it for the first time. I forgot as much as I remembered, and I even put off dinner so I could finish rereading this novel. As I re-read it, I never encountered a moment of premonition. One of the things I love most is that Ellis never tips his hand. Even knowing what happened, I could not have guessed all the plot twists and turns. Ellis is in control, and I am happy to be along for the ride.

The verdict: Robert Ellis is criminally under-appreciated as a mystery writer. City of Fire is intricately-plotted, gripping and utterly consuming.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Length: 357 pages
Publication date: May 29, 2007 (it's in paperback now)
Source: my local public library

Treat yourself! Buy City of Fire from Amazon or an independent bookstore.

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  1. What a great re-reading experience!! I haven't heard of this series but I look forward to your review of the third book as well.

  2. I'm a huge fan of rereading books -- and I've added Robert Ellis to my list of authors to check out. He's new to me but your enthusiasm is infectious!

  3. I love it when a reread is as exciting as the first time, and it's really quite a feat for a book of this genre accomplish that. Great review on this one! You've got me curious about it!


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