By: David Tienter
Publisher: Enigma Press
Publication Date: August 2014
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: September 23, 2014
After surviving and escaping a prison of war camp in Vietnam, the protagonist in Playing With Fire, Matt, knows he has developed a particular set of skills that allows him to get into the minds of criminals on the run. This has already been proven once when he helped a friend, Frank, track down the man who murdered his wife. Now, Frank is asking for help once again when Frankís brother Chuck goes missing after a few days hiking the Appalachian Trail. Frank explains to Matt that Chuck is in extremely good shape as he frequently runs marathons and has even competed in triathlons so it is disturbing that no one has heard from him in nearly two weeks. Immediately wanting to help his dear friend, Matt agrees to go searching for his brother and gathers the gear he will need to go on his own hike down the Appalachian Trail.
During his search for Chuck, Matt comes across an odd pile of leaves that is sure to be the work of some human and as he begins to move this pile he discovers the remains of a human boy. Matt has unknowingly stumbled onto the site of a heinous murder in which the victim appears to have been burned alive. Knowing that Chuck could still be out there with a psychotic killer running loose increases the intensity of the search but now Matt vows not only to find Chuck but to also find this killer as well and put an end to him.
It does not take long for Matt to realize that he is chasing after a downright dangerous and unpredictable man who would probably not hesitate to kill him if given the chance. It is clear after the remains of the boy were found that the killer fled from the Appalachian Trail and Matt will have to try to get inside this killerís head if he wants to figure out which way he went. Following his instincts, Matt sets out to track down this monster, having no way to know just how dangerous a quest he is accepting.
There is only one way I would describe this book and that is extremely intense. This was a thrilling mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat, especially toward the conclusion as it held a twist I in no way saw coming. Note, however, that this is not a story for the faint-hearted/cozy mystery reader! The story centers on a gruesome killer who turned my stomach each time he was mentioned. To be quite honest there were times where the story was written from the killerís perspective and I had a difficult time reading it as the descriptions were very detailed. Even though I did find myself applauding the character of Matt for going after the killer, there was not much left to the imagination when the murders were taking place.
Quill says: A thrilling mystery that takes the reader on an intense ride.