Friday, 24 February 2017

Into The Fire by Manda Scott

Into the Fire by Manda Scott
Published in the UK by Bantam Press in June 2015.

How I got this book:
Won in a @followthehens Twitter giveaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2014: In the French city of Orléans, a man’s charred corpse is found in a burned-out hotel, stripped of all ID. Police captain Inès Picaut must hunt down his killer before others fall prey to the fire. She has only one clue: the name of a woman who has been dead for over five hundred years.
1429: Joan of Arc is taking the war to the English. They want her dead but the only way to reach her is through a fiercely loyal inner circle - until undercover spy Tomas Rustbeard finally earns her trust.
The myths of the past hold the key to the mystery of the present, but how many must die before the truth is laid bare?

Into The Fire is set in Orleans, a French town I haven't yet visited, and it has a good sense of the Gallic about the writing, particularly in the early stages of the modern day crime story. Scott develops two stories alongside each other - one being a police procedural set in political circles in 2014 Orleans, the other taking us back to fifteenth century France and the military campaigns of Jehanne d'Arc. For the first half of the book I really enjoyed both stories. The political intrigues of both are interesting and well described. The characters are realistic and Scott has a talent for concisely portraying her scenes to enable easy imagining without slowing the pace with too much description.

However, once the modern day story steps up a gear, I found it headed swiftly into unbelievable events with the characters losing all sense of themselves. It was as if they were merely following a bad Hollywood action screenplay where all realism is sacrificed for relentless action. There is even a random unprofessional romance flung in for no good reason and, of course, the whole plot is centres personally on the chief investigator because that's the way these thrillers always pan out. By contrast, the historical storyline stays strong and fascinating, but I found the modern day shenanigans so distracting that it was hard to keep focused. I would far rather Scott had made this purely a historical novel and not tried for the dual aspect. The two stories are only tenuously linked so Jehanne's tale would easily have stood alone and the book would be the better for it.

Etsy Find!
by Saintly Silver in
Missouri, USA

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Books by Manda Scott / Historical fiction / Books from England

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