Burner is an urban fantasy set in Chicago. The book opens with a detailed warehouse scene and a very angry ghost attacking medium Kim Phillips, who wants to help her.
Kim has a special ability: together with her spiritual partner Priya, she helps ghosts pass over to the light; she’s a ‘burner’ but as a police detective, she also tries to find answers as to why the ghost remains.
Emma Murphy was a student and her life ended with violent abuse. During her “sending”, Emma leaves details of her murder and a partial vision of her killer. This burning leaves Kim exhausted, and during the night she has a vivid and frightening dream, one which continues on other nights. At police headquarters, her interest in this case leads Kim’s boss to suggest she partner up with detective Riley Cross. Research reveals Emma was an apprentice medium, and the death of one of her own community shocks Kim.
When Emma’s murder is followed by several more, all mediums, Kim is very confused; who would want to target mediums, and why? An attempt to “read” a knife for psychic residue leaves Kim badly injured, and she’s sent home for enforced rest. Here she reads diaries left by her grandmother, and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.
I like books about the paranormal, and the seven different affinities of mediums was an interesting slant; however, I had expected there to be more about each of the different affinities to add some layers to the writing. I was left not understanding several of their special abilities until the final reveal. It was also surprising that Kim didn’t use her own mentor or Emma’s mentor and Aunt, other than with general police procedures, I thought they would have been quite obvious sources of knowledge for the case; I don’t think this was thought through enough.
The very tentative hints of romance between Kim and Riley did little for my reading experience; it was definitely awkward, but as this is the first in a series I’m sure there will be more for them in later books. In this book, if Kim’s character had been developed further with more feminine traits the idea may have worked better. Currently Kim read as a very masculine figure “scrubbing her face with her hands”, on occasion. This being a very masculine move. I’m not sure how many women, even with only the basics of make-up on, scrub their faces with their hands as a typical gesture. At one point I even questioned if Kim was in fact a male character; much of the book read as if she was.
I liked the idea behind the book, but for me there were areas and characters which were under-developed. I was never convinced as to what truly had been discovered all those years ago and was a little disappointed in that I guessed the culprit before the police. Also Kim did the clichéd “head off to get the villain on her own with no backup” scenario, which has been overdone many times. If my points seem harsh it is only because this is a saturated genre and new books really do need to step up, above and beyond, to be competitive.
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Homicide detective Kim Phillips isn’t like the other officers of the Chicago Police Department. She’s quiet, isolated, and she can speak with the dead. Born with the ability to see into and interact with the afterlife, she is a Burner: a person tasked with hunting down dangerous spirits and sending them to the other side.
When Kim exorcises the ghost of a young girl, she’s dragged into a new and unsettling case, one where people like Kim are being killed. The only problem? There’s no connection between the victims, and no proof that they were murdered in the first place. Kim has to catch the killer before he finds his last victim and unleashes an unknown evil on the world.
Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, is a dark exploration of how life and death are only separated by a single breath and how even those with power can be powerless.
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