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Blue Smoke Hardcover – October 4, 2005


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399153063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399153068
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Romantic suspense queen Roberts (Blue Dahlia, etc.) lights up Baltimore's Little Italy with this appealing story of love, family, food and arson. Eleven-year-old Reena Hale, watching her family's restaurant go up in flames, decides to become an arson investigator. The fire shapes another child's destiny, too, as Joey Pastorelli sees his father go to prison for setting the blaze. Reena's close-knit Italian family rebuilds; Reena grows up and completes police and firefighter training. Despite inheriting her mother's good looks, Reena proves unlucky in love, mainly because her beaux tend to die in fires, but her fortunes look up after she meets hunky carpenter Bo Goodnight. Bo gets along with Reena's family, friends and co-workers, and handles the demands of her career with patient humor, so nothing stands in their way—except an obsessed, pyromaniac stalker determined to kill any man Reena loves. Although it does take Reena an inordinately long time to identify her nemesis, Roberts portrays investigative procedure more accurately than her many imitators. Well-sketched supporting characters with potential subplots of their own suggest that the prolific Roberts will put her feet to the fire again. Main selection, the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A lot of hard work is involved in becoming an arson investigator for the Baltimore Police Department, but Catarina "Reena" Hale believes it's worth it. There is nothing she enjoys more than the unique challenges involved in discovering the reasons someone would commit arson. The only thing that Reena doesn't like is that it is extremely tough to find a man willing to accept her crazy schedule and -danger-filled job. Now, just when it seems that she has met a man--her new next-door neighbor, carpenter Bowen Goodnight--willing to accept her for who she is and what she does, Reena begins receiving anonymous calls from someone threatening to use fire to destroy everyone Reena holds dear. Roberts effectively opens the mind of her twisted villain to readers to create suspense, but she balances these violent scenes with equally powerful scenes of love and family as Reena gets the support she needs to defeat a sociopath, whose capacity for evil knows no bounds. Blue Smoke is another of Roberts' riveting combinations of danger and romance. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on December 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read all the reviews of Blue Smoke BEFORE I read the book, something I usually do not do...so I was expecting a real mess. To my surprise, I liked the book a great deal. I'm not saying it's Nora's best, but I am surprised by some of the vehemence of those who did not like the plot line.

Yes, this is the story of an arsonist cum serial killer who, like most serial killers I have heard and read about, escalates his crimes and violence with each killing. And yes, there are some brutal descriptions of him in action, one in particular, which takes place shortly before the end of the book. But this is not Nora's first foray into murder when she is writing as herself. "Sanctuary" comes immediately to mind; the descriptions of the dead mother in that book are scary and gruesome to the max.

I think that for an author as prolific as Nora, to be expected to churn out romance after romance after romance, with no twists or no new material, is too much to ask. This is a murder mystery with the patented Nora love interest thrown in. Is it perfect? No. Should the main character, Reena, have figured out on the first page who the perpetrator was, as so many reviewers suggest? Well, maybe, but having watched "Cold Case Files" (the real one on the A&E Channel) for years, I know that it doesn't work that way in real life. Sometimes the obvious is simply not all that obvious.

In sum, I thought Blue Smoke was a heck of a good read; that's my opinion. Yes, if you abhor violence, either skip the violent parts (there really aren't all that many) or skip the book. But otherwise, I think Nora deserves a bit of praise for a well-told tale.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Cassie W. on October 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
BLUE SMOKE begins on the night Catarina Hale becomes a woman. Awoken by the unmistakable pains of female adolescence, Reena goes downstairs for a ginger ale in the late hours of an August night. When she steps outside for some fresh air, she notices a beautiful light coming from her family's pizza shop, Sirico's. What she at first believes to be a reflection of the streetlights in the windows of the shop turns out to be licking flames of orange fire. In the days that follow the fire, the arsonist responsible for the destruction of the restaurant is arrested, and the community covers the Hale family like a warm blanket during their trying times, working with them to rebuild Sirico's until the restaurant is even better than it was before. But 11-year-old Reena can't get the flames, the overwhelming heat and destructive power of the fire, out of her mind. She wants to study fires, to understand the arsonists who are obsessed with setting them.

Years later, Reena is an arson investigator for the Baltimore Police Department. And while her professional life thrives and she has plenty of fires to study and arsonists to arrest, her personal life is less impressive. She has had a string of failed relationships, ones that ended in tragedy and violence, ones that simply ended, anticlimactically. And now, at 31, Reena has just bought her first home and is ready to welcome love into her life. It comes in the form of the man next door, a carpenter named Bowen Goodnight, who spotted Reena at a college party 13 years ago and has been enchanted with his "Dream Girl" ever since.

But just when things couldn't get any better, they abruptly start to get much worse.
Read more ›
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Ryan VINE VOICE on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'm not surprised by the number of bad reviews on here. People tend to put other people into categories, and are rarely happy when someone tries to step out of the little box that's been created for them. Personally, I see it as a good thing that Nora Roberts can write both tender, sweet romances and dark, grittty suspense novels. It's a testament to her talent that she can do both, and do them both competently. Because, yes, this was a very well written suspense novel, despite what some of the reviews here have said. No, this wasn't a mystery. It wasn't supposed to be a mystery. Yes, we were supposed to know who it was from the beginning. That was, IMO, the point of the book: to follow the life of Reena, and see how this one person touched it on so many levels. This was more a book about relationships...and relationships are Nora's specialty. She didn't disappoint me at all in that area. Coming from a big Catholic family, I saw her portrayal of Reena's family as very realistic. I loved Bo. A good departure from the typical "alpha" male who remains cool and emotionally distant from the love of his life, Bo jumped in with both feet, enthusiastic enough so that it freaked Reena out, he was so enthusiastic. I loved that he embraced the whole relationship with open arms instead of standing back thinking, "I love her, but I must not allow her to see" like many "romantic heroes" do. Did we need the graphic descriptions? Hell yes. That's part of what made the book spooky and uncomfortable, and it was supposed to be spooky and uncomfortable. That's what a suspense story is. That so many of Nora's loyal fans were uncomfortable to the point where they couldn't read the story, or were so horrified by it that they gave it one star, only tells me that Nora did her job well.Read more ›
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