While scanning through other reviews, I noticed a lot of people were disappointed with this novel (it's one of the reasons I waited to read it), but I actually enjoyed it. The main character may not be as likable or sympathetic as some of French's previous protagonist, but I enjoyed the slow build up, and the eventual revelations about Scorcher's past and family life. Like all the other detectives in French's novel, Scorcher has a background that is a bit more complex than one might expect. In his case, he has a younger sister that is unstable of whom he is very protective. Usually, he can manage to maintain his bearing and keep his private and professional lives separate but this time, his sister has a break down right when he is working a high profile case that happens to have occured in a location that is important to their childhood.
The novel takes place after the housing bubble burst, and Scorcher is called to a murder scene at a suburban home - the mother is in critical condition but alive, but the husband, son and daughter are dead. The Spains were doing all the right things, focusing on the career and investing in a home when the bubble burst, and the up and coming neighborhood ended up as a worthless trap. Scorcher feels a lot of resentment about what happened to the Spains before the murders even occurred and is very invested in determining what happened in that house because something was definitely off. Scorcher is also training a new rookie on the homicide squad, and after spending the majority of his career as a loner, he is actually bonding with someone and even thinks he may finally have found someone that he could work well with as a partner.
I liked this one, and thought the exploration of Scorcher's relationships as well as the way French used the current economic situation to set the scene were both well developed. French's writing helps even a generic crime story stand out slightly, and in that way, this one is no different from her previous novels. I cared as much about finding out Scorcher's background as I did about the truth behind the crime.