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Burning Man (A Gideon and Sirius Novel) Paperback – December 11, 2012
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Crime-fiction-veteran Russell (Multiple Wounds, 2005) blurs subgenre boundaries here, with comedy, psychological suspense, and police procedural blissfully cohabitating. After months of treatment for burns sustained while pursuing a serial killer into a raging wildfire, Michael Gideon and his K-9 partner, Sirius, have leveraged their hero status for spots on the newly created Special (read Strange) Cases Unit. With Gideon barely squelching fire-induced PTSD, the duo is summoned to the scene of a teenager’s apparent crucifixion. The victim is quickly identified as a bully with numerous victims, and Gideon gets to work, wise-cracking the resulting tangle of witnesses into cooperation. Gideon is managing more than cases and nightmares; he’s also juggling a budding romance, conflict about his family’s past, and a creepily codependent relationship with the murderer, whose capture has shaped his current life. Alternately used to ingratiate himself with witnesses and suspects and to exhaust their defenses, Gideon’s wit runs up against inner turbulence as he attempts to crack the case and deal with personal demons. Particularly appealing for fans of Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole series. --Christine Tran
"One of the best writers in the mystery field today" - Publishers Weekly
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The character of Michael Gideon is a complex one. While the witty yet caustic one-liner replies are quite clever, like referring to the crime scene as "Golgotha" (FYI, it's where Jesus got crucified), they are merely a cover for his wounded psyche. Most people simply won't associate with him on their first impression that he's just grumpy. It's the friends that can see through that gruff exterior that see him as a real person. And yes, there's Sirius, who doesn't speak, but is a great character nonetheless, sometimes playing the straight man to Gideon's bad jokes, but more often than not reading Gideon's moods and doesn't let him brood, as well as saving Gideon's life twice in this novel alone (once in the fire).
Other supporting characters are good too, and as in any good mystery, there were many red herrings. However, there sure seemed to be a LOT of extra characters, and not quite enough red herrings. There were no telegraphed moves, i.e. "I saw that coming a mile away", and the resolution is very reminiscent of some of the Sherlock Holmes stories where doing the "right" thing is not always the same as justice.
I expected the Weatherman thread to be left dangling, and as I already have the next book guess I'll see what happens next.
In this novel both the detective Michael Gideon and his police dog Sirius are marked. They followed a serial killer into a wild fire, and came out with the felon under arrest, but Gideon and Sirius suffered third degree burns.
Both dog and man qualify for early retirement, but they find their way bacl to the L.A. police department as a one man, one dog special crimes unit. This is the first in a series of two novels to date about these heroes. I already read the second story “Guardians of the Night,” and liked it so much I have ordered other novels by Alan Russell. He is very good,
I bought the first book thinking this would be similar to Spencer Quinn’s novels about private eye, Bernie Little and his dog Chet. While Chet and Bernie have lots of humor, this is a straight police procedural.
Michael Gideon does have a sense of humor, and I even shared one of the book’s jokes on my Facebook page. But readers expecting the fun stuff in Chet and Bernie novels will be disappointed.
In “Burning Man” we get the back story of how Gideon and Sirius were injured and how they came back on the force. They waste no time finding crimes to solve. A teenager is crucified in the park; a mother abandons her baby to die.
Gideon is haunted by nightmares of his ordeal by fire, and his own past as an abandoned infant, and more recently a widower. He romances a social worker, and treats his canine partner more like a brother than as a co-worker. In this story Gideon and Sirius must enter the flames for a second time. This time they enter a burning house to make an arrest and try to save a suspect’s life.
Has mystery fiction has gone to the dogs? Not only do we have this series and the Chet and Bernie series, but David Rosenfelt’s wonderful Andy Carpenter novels feature a helpful dog, Tara.
I love dogs. Maybe that’s why Rosenfelt, Quinn and Russell are three of my favorite authors. More likely it is because they can tell wonderful stories. Dogs make great companions. The human detectives in these stories are blessed.