Harper's latest is a fast-paced ride with a straightforward plot and conflict. But the pacing has a price; character development takes a backseat to the action, and the story suffers because of it. The villain is intriguing and steals the focus from everything else.

The trail of the "Boy Next Door" arsonist has taken the FBI arson squad to seven states; and some 10 fires and four fatalities later, they're still nowhere near to catching him. Until a witness-aided sketch brings a call from Lauren Taylor, a widowed bush pilot in Montana.

Lauren thinks that a recent fare, a man calling himself Rocky Marston, may be their man. Brad Hale is dispatched to follow up, and it's soon clear that Lauren is right. Something else is clear, too -- Lauren fits the profile of the arsonist's previous victims. And while keeping Lauren and her young son safe is a priority for Brad, he has a job to do. Managing both may be impossible.

(MIRA, Jan., 400 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer