Thursday, February 23, 2023

Review: Malibu Burning by Lee Goldberg


If you have read Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg, you know that a part of that book involves a wildfire on the rampage through the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu. That book, part of the Eve Ronin series, is from the perspective of law enforcement. Malibu Burning is that same fire from the perspective of arson investigator, Walter Sharpe, and his new partner, Andrew Walker.

Walker is a former United States Marshal who has taken what he thinks will be a quieter job as an arson investigator tied into the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Mentally he is having a hard time with it as he left the service and changed jobs to ally his wife’s fears as she is pregnant and had a lot of concern over his safety and the way he did the job. Bad knees and other issues means he can’t be as physical as he would like and has to slow it down a little bit. He prefers to work alone, as does his new partner, Walter Sharpe.

The fact that both are loners by nature means nothing to the powers that be who have chosen to put them together. From the start, they do not exactly mesh well, but Walker needs Sharpe to teach him what he does not know about fire investigation. And Walker can teach him a few things about man hunting as they have arsonists to chase.

One of which is somebody known to Walker. A former prisoner by the name of Danny Cole. He is a superb con man and a very good thief. He should have gotten away on the last job, but made a choice to help someone. That choice cost him his freedom. Now he is out and looking for a big payday and to settle a score. He is planning to do it with a team pf highly motivated folks, some of whom he has worked with before, and a wildfire.

Not that Walker and Sharpe knows this from the start. The reader knows far more than the investigators do as numerous flashbacks are sprinkled liberally through the read all the way up to present day. That is intermixed with Sharpe teaching Walker, and by extension the reader, basics surrounding fire and the dynamics of a wildfire through a couple of other cases and the early stages of this fire.

The first of what clearly is intended to be a series, Malibu Burning, is an enjoyable read. While it comes across as a vehicle for a tv series more than anything, there is enough complexity and action to hold the reader’s interest. This reader much prefers the Eve Ronin series. However, this was a good book in its own right and I will be looking for the next one.


My reading copy was an ARC by way of NetGalley. The book is now  scheduled to be released on September 1st. 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2023


Lesa said...

I think I liked Malibu Burning more than you did. I liked Danny Cole. His flaw is that he doesn't want innocent people to get hurt by his actions. However, that works out for him in the end.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Agree on all counts.