Ashes to Ashes
by Tami Hoag
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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There's a killer on the loose and he's one sick puppy. He's already tortured, murdered and set two women on fire. Now, he has claimed a third victim, but his luck may be changing. You see, as he was setting that body on fire in the park, there was a witness there who saw everything and can identify "The Cremator."

Enter Kate Conlan who acts as an advocate for Angie DeMarco, the young witness. Angie's had a tough life and the questioning tactics of the various Minneapolis law enforcement agencies aren't helping the situation.

Perhaps the cops are in such a tizzy because the latest murder victim is Jillian Bondurant, daughter of the famous billionaire Peter Bondurant. With all his money and power, Peter is able to get foremost FBI profiler John Quinn on the case.

What we soon find out is that Kate Conlan and John Quinn have a rocky past that was once filled with love, tragedy and abrupt separation five years ago. Now, they must put their feelings aside in order to catch a killer.

Ashes to Ashes details the dangerous path taken to find "The Cremator." There are several suspects, both male and female, including a security guard and Peter Bondurant himself.

This story is interesting, but the detail is somewhat difficult to digest. Hoag has certainly done her research. However, the passages describing the sight and scent of charred human remains were beyond graphic, even for this seasoned reader.

There was a lot of dark humor and dialogue like that which you'd use if you were trying to cope with a difficult job as these characters were. Being slightly twisted myself, this was my favorite element of the book.

There were many side plots in Ashes to Ashes. Hoag often visits the relationship between Kate and John. Jillian Bondurant apparently had a tumultuous past, as did Angie DeMarco who is keeping lots of secrets from the investigators.

Frankly these side plots did little for me, as there were too many of them and not enough time was spent on developing the lines. I didn't care for Kate as a person, nor was I convinced of her feelings of John. This is surprising because once upon a time, Tami Hoag wrote romance novels for Bantam under the Loveswept line.

The story is long, moving fast in some places and slow in others. I only mention this because there was no time when I felt I had to continue reading the book. If I was tired, I went to bed without the urge to read just a bit further.

In all fairness, Ashes to Ashes is a decent suspense novel. However, it doesn't stand out from other novels in the same genre. The ending did not shock or surprise me. Frankly, I was annoyed with the final result. I wish I could discuss it further, but that would give away key points of the story.

My overall reaction to the is "Been there, done that." Perhaps the detailed burned body descriptions were necessary, but I feel they were put there to distract from the fact that there's not a lot there except for said body. Hoag wrote a story here and just sort of moved the characters around it like puppets to propel the scenes.

That being said, I really wouldn't recommend Ashes to Ashes to my loyal 2.5 readers. I know I am in the minority here and probably 75% of the folks who read this review would actually like the book. So keep that in mind when considering your purchase. Personally, I feel that there are better Whodunnit books out there. However, if a free copy lands in your hands, then by all means, read away!

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