Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lies in Sheffield. He grew up in the 80s reading anything he could get from the library, writing stories, watching large amounts of television, playing video games, and largely avoiding the great outdoors. He spent five years trying to master playing the electronic organ and another five trying to learn Spanish. It didn’t take him too long to realise that he’d be better off sticking to the writing.
After a few ‘proper’ jobs ( among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of book selling, where he could talk to people about books all day.
His debut novel Firewatching is the first book in the DS Adam Tyler series.
About the book
One False Move – A body is found bricked into the walls of a house. From the state of the hands, it’s clear they were buried alive and tried to claw their way out before they died. Soon, the victim is linked to a missing person’s case and DS Adam Tyler is called.
Will Ignite – As the sole representative of South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit, Tyler recognises his role as what it is – a means of keeping him out of the way following an ‘incident.’ When this case falls in his lap, he grabs the opportunity to fix his stagnating career.
The City – When he discovers he has a connection to the case that hopelessly compromises him, he makes the snap decision not to tell his superiors. With such a brutal and sadistic murder to unpick, Tyler must move carefully to find the truth, without destroying the case or himself.
Meanwhile, someone in the city knows exactly what happened to the body. Someone who is watching Adam closely. Someone with an unhealthy affinity with fire…
Sometimes you get reads that demand attention. You are unable to focus on any other matter or book until you have devoted every aspect of yourself to this particular story – right until the very last page.
DS Adam Tyler is called to the scene of a crime as the representative of the Cold Case Unit. The body is of a person who went missing many years ago. Perhaps he can finally get some answers to the many questions the police and the family have.
Simultaneously someone has been setting fires – the question is whether there is any connection to a bizarre blog on the internet and real life or is it all just some strange coincidence. The insidious nature of the arsonist is balanced, in an oddly fascinating way, by the factual accounts of historical incidents of tragedies linked to fire.
In the midst of the more serious nature of this crime read the relationship between Doggett and Tyler brings a little humour to the story. Doggett has a very specific snarky charm, and he doesn’t mind sharing it with everyone around him. Think Dalziel and his acidic tongue, but with much friendlier intentions.
I enjoyed the way the author stapled the truth of the insatiable hunger of social media intermittently into the story. It serves as a stark and frightening reminder that there are plenty of invisible people out there in the world, who feed off pain, drama and fear. What’s worse is how many of them are willing to incite and fuel the flames – pun absolutely intended.
It’s a superb crime read – an excellent combination of snark, mystery and murder.
I had to go back and check again that this was indeed a debut novel, because Thomas plots and writes like someone who has been writing for years. I hope this is the first of many more.