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Book review: 'Fire Witness' has brilliant storyline, but derailed by explicit scenes, language

By Shelby Scoffield

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 13 2013 2:30 p.m. MDT

"THE FIRE WITNESS," by Lars Kepler, Sarah Crichton Books, $27, 497 pages (f)

"The Fire Witness" by Lars Kepler is a fast-paced book that is trilling, but has several unnecesary sex scenes and harsh language throughout.

It begins by introducing the reader to Elisabet Grim, a woman who is in charge of a state-approved home for troubled girls in Sweden.

Vicky Bennet is the newest girl in the home and has a history of violence and self-mutilation.

After the girls are in bed, Elisabet and one of the girls are murdered. The police are quickly called out and an investigation begins. Detective Joona Linna is called in to observe the case. Linna is an astute detective who can catch things that often go unnoticed.

When all of the girls are being interviewed, the detective notices that Vicky is missing. She quickly becomes the primary suspect in the case. Linna is not convinced Vicky is the killer and works hard to clear her name.

"The Fire Witness" has an outstanding storyline. Each chapter is short and exciting.

The authors have formed characters that are just as loveable as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Linna is clever and imperfect, which makes him all the more appealing.

The clever and unexpected ending is very satisfying and it's shocking who the murderer is.

"The Fire Witness" has its flaws. The harsh language used throughout the story ruins the murder mystery. Even though the language lightens up at the end of the book, it is still unnecessary and out of place.

There are explicit sex scenes that are scattered throughout the book, including one with a grown man and an underage prostitute. The sex scenes have nothing to do with character development or enhancing the plot.

Overall, "The Fire Witness" has a brilliant storyline. Nonetheless, the sex scenes and language diminish its value and make it a cheap and raunchy novel.

Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for a literary couple in Sweden. They are the authors of the best-selling novels "The Nightmare" and "The Hypnotist."

Shelby Scoffield has a bachelor's in English from Brigham Young University and a master's in rhetoric and composition from Stanislaus State University. She is currently working on her teaching credentials so she can teach high school English.

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