Fire Damage by Kate Medina

Sami Scott is a four year old boy with some troubling secrets – the son of a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict, he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, but Dr Jessie Flynn, a military psychologist, has her doubts that things are as simple as that. Sami is demonstrating odd, almost violent reactions, to certain stimuli and who, exactly, is the Shadowman who he is terrified of?

Meanwhile, Jessie is asked by a former patient to help with finding the truth about a death in Afghanistan. And the local police are investigating an unidentified dead body washed up on the shore… As (surprise, surprise) the cases begin to converge, it is clear that the truth lies much closer to home than anyone suspects.

I first encountered Kate Medina’s work with White Crocodile in 2014, although she was masquerading under the cunning pseudonym “K T Medina” at that point. I’m not sure what caused K T to become Kate, but for whatever reason, it caused me to miss the release of Fire Damage a year ago. Anyway, with the imminent release of the second in the Jessie Flynn series (cough, review copy, cough), Fire Damage reappeared on Netgalley. By this point, I’d sussed out the name switch, and grabbed a copy to review.

It’d be easy to write this off, if you haven’t read it. A thriller/mystery where everything is linked, a heroine who is as damaged as the people she is trying to help and/or catch. But that would be selling this book very short indeed.

Kate Medina has pulled of a stunning piece of work with this book. Drawing on some of her own personal experiences to add a level of realism to this tale that many of its ilk are missing, she has written a thriller with a multi-levelled plot that had this reader looking the wrong way, with characters who could easily be clichés but instead are compelling, real, people. Every act perpetrated in the tale has a feeling that it could have happened, rather than being manufactured by the author for shock value.

Fire Damage is out now from Harper Collins UK, Scared to Death, the second book, is released on the 4th of May. Oh, and fairly obviously, this is Highly Recommended.

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