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Interview: 'A Slow Fire Burning', Paula Hawkins's Darkest Mystery Yet, Is Beckoning

'So you've got to put yourself in their situation.'
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  • A Slow Fire Burning
  • 'So you've got to put yourself in their situation.'

Publisher's Summary

An instant number one New York Times best seller

The scorching new thriller from the number one New York Times best-selling author of The Girl on the Train. 

A Slow Fire Burning twists and turns like a great thriller should, but it's also deep, intelligent and intensely human.” (Lee Child)

“Only a clairvoyant could anticipate the book’s ending.” (New York Times)

With the same propulsion that captivated millions of listeners worldwide in The Girl on the Train and Into the Water, Paula Hawkins unfurls a gripping, twisting story of deceit, murder, and revenge.

When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment. Who are, whether they know it or not, burning to right the wrongs done to them. 

When it comes to revenge, even good people might be capable of terrible deeds. How far might any one of them go to find peace? How long can secrets smolder before they explode into flame? 

Look what you started.

©2021 Paula Hawkins (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

A Slow Fire Burning is a treat: utterly readable, moving in parts and saturated with the kind of localized detail that made The Girl on the Train so compelling…a return to form.” (The Guardian)

"With a beautifully wrought cast of characters who are real and likeable even when they are complicated and flawed, a fantastic, picturesque London setting, twists and turns galore and exquisite prose, this is a high class read. Paula Hawkins is a genius." (Lisa Jewell, New York Times best-selling author of The Family Upstairs

“The flaws of each character will surprise and perhaps even enchant you - and only a clairvoyant could anticipate the book’s ending.” (The New York Times Book Review

What listeners say about A Slow Fire Burning

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

This book should have a DISCLAIMER!

While the story line was interesting, a book that touches on so many sensitive topics should absolutely have a disclaimer. Rape, other sexual violence, abduction, physical and emotional abuse, and child loss. Based on this I probably would not suggest this book to many people. It was hard to listen to.

72 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Slow and steady mystery

I’ll start by saying Rosamund Pike’s performance is incredible. Her narration is perfect. There are many characters and she does an amazing job differentiating.

The story reflects the title. It is slow but the simmering starts to boil as the story unfolds. Lots of characters and I made a note of who was who since I sometimes have issues remembering characters when listening to a book vs reading it. With that said, the story is incredible. The characters are broken and you learn about them slowly, pieces of the puzzle start to come together. I had not guessed who had "done it". Which is refreshing.

There is a bit of animal cruelty at the end which I didn't think was necessary and don't enjoy reading or listening to so I skipped over it.

All in all, very good listen!

A pure mystery of trauma, vengeance, and its effects.

41 people found this helpful

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Hard to follow

I found myself confused many times during this book. I could not keep track of which character was speaking at any given time. I am not sure if this is a narration issue or more related to the writing.

32 people found this helpful

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I did not expect Rosamund Pike to lead me astray

I wasn’t expecting to read another Paula Hawkins novel. The Girl on the Train was a moment, and it passed. But Rosamund Pike is one of the best movie star readers—she has several titles to her name—so when I saw she’d be reading this, I thought Hawkins had written another hit. (Pike doesn’t read just _anything_.)

Nah. It’s not another hit. It’s sort of a whodunit, but a tremendously uninteresting one. (We don’t get to know the victim at all. We’re never invested.). It’s sort of a family drama—rival sisters—and sort of a slice of life about a small town. It’s very unfocused, and the time jumps are annoying. Is Hawkins above being edited?

I never have this complaint, but the character names are unusually uninspired. Miriam—that’s a good character name. She stands out from the rest. But Carla, Angela and Laura? Lazy.

26 people found this helpful

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Worth it!

Wow! So many twists and turns. I’m going to listen to it again. My ADD self had a hard time keeping up with who was who at first but I finally got it. I will be recommending this to my friends.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning!

Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Smart, shocking and sophisticated. It doesn't get much better than this for us who are constantly craving the next best 'psychological thriller' endorphins. You will not be disappointed.

18 people found this helpful

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So boring and poorly written

This is NOT Girl on a train suspense, the book is plodding and dull with poorly drawn characters that never DO much. Waste of credit.

16 people found this helpful

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Whiplash but worth it!

Be prepared that you will be on a rollercoaster ride with this book. You may get whiplash afterward, but it will be so worth it!
Brilliant writing.

11 people found this helpful

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Paula Hawkins at her Best

If you enjoyed “The girl on the Train” and “Into the Water” you will not be disappointed! It is rare that an author can deliver a third (unrelated!) thriller that is as intricate, suspenseful, and masterfully crafted as the first. Characters are — in true Hawkins-fashion— human. They are three dimensional, multi-layered, and utterly believable. No one character is favored, nobody is all good. And from a cast of flawed humans one (or more) emerge as Murder. But does that make them less likable than those who do unspeakable acts, terrible damage in the name of righteousness, love, obsession, or something entirely different?
The journey into the eternal duality of all humankind is never more entertaining than in Hawkins’ hands. A real delight.

11 people found this helpful

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Better than Girl on the Train!

Very well written and read. Characters were very real. Their thoughts and feelings so believable. The story was so much more than just a mystery.

9 people found this helpful