In Through Smoke, J.R. Tate stirs up a recipe for not only trouble but danger and disaster. This is no cookbook thriller, however, because the ingredients of drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling, and family dysfunction create a mixture that is volatile, explosive and altogether edgy.
Tate's characters are believable and realistic. She has developed each person so that you are drawn into their struggles and find yourself loving and hating at the same time. You are attracted to the hero, Michael McGinnis, and begin rooting for him from the very beginning of the story. His family relationships are sadly all too familiar. His own struggle with alcohol, his brother's drug addiction and gambling problem lead Michael down the primrose path of enabling an addict and all the while rationalizing why he is putting himself and his girlfriend, Eva, in harm's way by protecting Casey, his younger brother.
Stir in the consequences of finding himself on the wrong side of Casey's bookie, mounting danger as the bookie seeks retribution, a workplace romance, some guilt and shame and you have a thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You cheer Michael on as he does his job as a search and rescue firefighter and you hiss and boo as Viper, the bookie does his vilest to destroy not only Casey, but Michael and his girlfriend and their very lives. Plot twists, fire and death are the order of the day and Tate ties it all together in her recipe for trouble.
A fast paced read, you will find yourself hurrying to see what happens, who will live and who will die. Who will be victorious and who will get their just desserts? I was left hungry for more and Tate does not disappoint. Some of the characters move on with their lives in a sequel as thrilling as Through Smoke. No spoiler from me, however, you'll need to seek out "Backfire" to find out who has survived Viper's ungodly payback.