Book Review: The Source of Smoke
Reviewed by Lindsay Crandall
Fans of true crime and small town drama are going to love this murder mystery
V.L. Adams absolutely nails the combination of true crime and small town drama in The Source of Smoke. The story is told in the third-person from the perspective of the protagonist Charlie Allen.
Charlie has already successfully escaped her small town in Oklahoma and settled into Dallas, but she’s brought back by the unthinkable—her sister Dani is murdered. Wanting to raise her niece in a town filled with memories of Dani, Charlie moves back to Oklahoma.
On the first and second anniversaries of Dani’s murder, Charlie receives a letter from Darius, who is currently incarcerated, having been convicted of killing her. These letters remain unopened, stuffed in a drawer, until Charlie receives a third letter on the third anniversary—it turns out Darius has been writing and claiming he is innocent of Dani’s murder for the past three years.
Charlie is curious by nature and begins to dig into the murder and accompanying trial. She is faced with disapproval from almost everyone involved in the case, all of whom believe in Darius’s guilt. Regardless of who approves of what she’s doing, Charlie is determined to find the truth about what happened that night. Has Darius been wrongly convicted? As Charlie starts to unravel the mystery surrounding Dani’s murder, she starts to receive ominous warnings herself, leaving her questioning if perhaps Dani’s killer has been free all along.
Charlie is extremely well-written—a strong female character with an unflappable sense of right and wrong. I genuinely enjoyed reading this story from her point of view. The supporting characters shine too. Each one brings some new element to the mystery around Dani’s murder. Adams has written all of these characters in a way that they truly stand out.
I especially enjoyed Charlie’s childhood best friend Winnie, who eventually provides Charlie with some much needed perspective on her quest for the truth. “You deserve to go to sleep at night without wondering,” she tells Charlie, acknowledging that, while she may not necessarily agree with what Charlie is doing, she understands why it needs to be done.
Adams’s ability to infuse a small town setting with both charm and stifling claustrophobia is impressive. Almost everyone in the town is aware of every one of Charlie’s decisions and makes their disapproval known.
Fans of the true crime genre are sure to love this novel. Adams really excels in pacing this story. Every new rumor or bit of gossip Charlie hears seems relevant to the situation, making it difficult to put the novel down. The story picks up most when the lies start to unravel, making the last quarter of the book easy to fly through. I genuinely enjoyed The Source of Smoke, and I think you would too.
Publisher: New Degree Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Murder Mystery
Print Length: 292 pages
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