Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Watch It Burn

Watch It Burn by Kristen Bird
3/12/24; 336 pages
MIRA Books

Watch It Burn by Kristen Bird is a mystery where three women work together to find the secrets behind a woman's death and a self-help movement. It is a highly recommended small town domestic mystery.

When out on her morning run in the small Texas town of Edenberg, Nichole Miller, an elementary school teacher, finds the body of 65 year-old Beverly Hoffman. She calls 911 and then her best friend, journalist Jenny Martin. Jenny has recently moved back to her hometown in hopes of saving her marriage and reestablishing her writing career. Jenny rushes to the scene and immediately realizes that Beverly's death was no accident. 

Jenny and Nichole are sure Beverly's death is tied to her husband George Hoffman and his cult-ish personal-development company Genetive. Hoffman has bought up most of the town and controls everything in Edenberg. The two women are friends with Robin, Beverly’s daughter-in-law, and enlist her help to expose the truth behind Genetive. Robin knows the lies, secrets, and manipulation behind the Genetive empire.

Watch It Burn is a well-written examination of a death, small town politics, family trauma, a self-development cult, and a megalomaniacal man trying to control everything. The narrative is told through three points-of-view, Jenny, Nichole, and the deceased Beverly. Beverly is the most interesting narrator because she knows the truth. You know from the opening that you are not only trying to solve a murder, but waiting to discover who set the entire town on fire.

The beginning of the novel does move at a slow pace and it takes some time to really hold your attention. Once the three women decide to register and attend a weekend retreat to the private Genetive compound, the plot picks up the pace. The inside look into the cult of Genetive is interesting, but also serves to increase the tension and a sense of danger. The cult itself seems to be composed of some stereotypes combined with some real cults. 3.5 rounded up. Thanks to MIRA for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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