THE TORCHING by Kerry Peresta
SERIES: Olivia Callahan Suspense #3
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense (general market)
PUBLISHER: Level Best Books
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2023
Mysterious fires. A haunting past. A secret file.
Three years ago, Olivia Callahan endured an assault that resulted in a devastating brain injury. She survived, but she couldn’t remember anything about her life or who she was. Now, she’s determined to build a bridge between the past she lost and the life she must reclaim.
When Olivia crosses paths with PI Tom Stark, she is drawn to the investigative field, and becomes his intern. She finds a heavily redacted, forty-five-year-old file locked in his desk drawer that mentions her mother as a young woman. Why had her mentor hidden the file from her, and why had he never mentioned a case involving her mother?
As Olivia moves forward with her fledgling career, a string of mysterious fires moves through the community, puzzling the Baltimore Arson Investigative Unit. One of the fires strikes Olivia’s beloved farmhouse in rural Maryland. Now, in addition to uncovering the secrets bound within the redacted file, she becomes convinced that the fires happening around the area are disturbing calling cards…and they’re meant for her.
Other Books In This Series
The Torching by Kerry Peresta starts off with a bang and keeps a steady balance between traditional mystery and surprising twists, including some moments of harrowing suspense. When we first meet up with Olivia Callahan she goes from celebrating her daughter’s high school graduation to living a nightmare in the time it takes for the fire chief to say “Lillian Callahan? Are your parents here?” This kicks off a layered story that takes Olivia – and readers – through a wide range of emotions before all is said and done.
This is my first read in the Olivia Callahan mysteries, but I thought the author did a good job of helping readers like me catch up with the highlights of the past two books. Olivia is a very intriguing protagonist – a traumatic brain injury offered her the rare opportunity to completely start anew, and part of that fresh start involves a new career as a private investigator. I loved her mentor Tom, as well as the office’s receptionist Sherry – their personalities complemented Olivia’s. And of course I can’t forget her new rescue dog Marlowe who stole the show more than once.
Bottom Line: Arson. Political corruption. Family secrets. Murder. The various mystery/suspense threads in The Torching by Kerry Peresta are intriguing to be sure, but none are as intriguing as Olivia Callahan herself. I thought she was incredibly brave but also completely relatable in spite of all life has thrown at her in recent years – and in this book alone. But, yes, the mysteries that she tackles on these pages are good too, with complex layers that sometimes cross over each other and leave you eager to see how – or if – they are more closely connected. Her relationship with swoony Hunter has its own twists and turns, and fans will definitely be looking forward to how it develops in future books. Readers who enjoy private investigator mysteries will want to give Olivia Callahan a try, too!
Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that there is a moderate amount of cursing in this novel.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / liked it!
Kerry Peresta is the author of the Olivia Callahan Suspense series. “The Torching,” book three, releases March, 2023, and books four and five in 2024 and 2025. Her standalone suspense thriller, “Back Before Dawn,” releases May, 2023. Additional writing credits include a popular newspaper and e-zine humor column, “The Lighter Side,” (2009—2011); the short story “The Day the Migraine Died,” published in Rock, Roll, and Ruin: A Triangle Sisters in Crime Anthology, articles published in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, South Carolina Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.
Kerry is the mother of four adult children, and spent thirty years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, copywriter, and editor. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her working out, riding her bike or kayaking, enjoying the beaches of Hilton Head Island, or cuddling her two cats, Agnes and Felix. She and her husband moved to Hilton Head Island in 2015.
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