Title: Until We Burn
Author: David Duane Kummer
Genre: Psychological Thriller
The secrets of a small town, and one man’s quest to find the truth, form the basic premise of this psychological thriller by David Kummer. A tragic event from his past drove Cyrus Street away from his hometown, but now he’s back, and he’s determined to bring to justice those responsible for the destruction of his life, and the lives of the people he loves most.
Elements of this book were interesting and compelling. The setting itself felt like a living, breathing character. David Kummer really brought small-town America to life through his attention to detail and through the subtle descriptive touches that he infused each chapter with. The book felt authentic and had the power to transport readers to the very heart of rural Indiana itself.
Cyrus Street is a complex, multi-layered human being, and as one of the main narrators of the story, he is as fascinating as he is unreliable. One can never tell whether he’s telling the truth or making a loose interpretation of collected facts. Seeing events unfold through the prism of his fractured mind contributed to the sinister and macabre undertones that the book is trying to achieve.
The parallels between him and the younger character of Will were cleverly portrayed. The use of flashbacks juxtaposed with present occurrences further added to the development of both characters, as well as the development of their relationship with each other. The interactions between the older Cyrus and his young employee were truly some of the highlights of this book.
The author could have been more consistent with the development and exploration of the main plot points. The narrative sometimes felt like it was going in several directions all at once. Where one normally expects explanations and the tying up of loose ends as the story reaches its conclusion, readers were instead left with a small but palpable feeling of uncertainty and confusion.
The pacing of the story alternated between slow and super-sonic. At times, it felt like some elements were added to amp up the thrill factor of the story, lending an air of contrivance to the book that could be seen as unnecessary. The bare bones of the plot were strong enough on its own, and it would have been better to have just told the story in a more simple and straightforward manner.
As with most thrillers, this book inevitably came with a plot twist or two. However, the author could have been more meticulous about showing the steps that led to the story’s eventual ending so that readers are better able to accept and understand why things turned out the way they did. As such, the few gaps in the storyline made the conclusion feel less satisfying than it should have been.
Evocative, thought-provoking, and full of unexpected twists and turns, this book will thrill many a lover of crime and suspense novels. It will cause readers to explore the very nature of humanity and our tenuous hold on our morality. Nothing and no one are as they seem, and it is this unpredictability that will keep readers turning the page and thinking about this book long after the final chapter has been closed.
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