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Incendiary by Chris Cleeve

2.9 out of 4 stars.

A suicide bomb, infidelity, and insanity is all too dark a combo for me.

A woman loses her husband and son when they attend a soccer game at a stadium that gets targeted by terror attacks. The woman does not attend but instead spends her time having sexual relations with a man she meets at a bar. The man just happens to have a serious girlfriend that is about to reveal she is pregnant. The woman is obviously in a state of hysteria so she decides she needs to get a job in order to help pay the bills and a good place to do that would be the police force where her husband worked. She then proceeds to have sexual relations with the head cop. This is all about the time when she begins to have hallucinations that her dead son is by her side. This type of choppiness in my writing is a reflection of how the book felt to me; not flowing and abrupt. I see where it can be meaningful for Cleeve never to give the lead protagonist a name but to me it just made it all the more unweighted and me, the reader, grasping for a trend.

Awful, awful, awful.

I understand that in this day an age where there is so much grief and PTSD that these dominos can be a normal sequence of events but it leaned more on depressing and unnecessary dark rather than educational or eye opening. I felt just ultimate sadness and a pit in my stomach. I had no moments of relief in 300 pages.

I picked this book up because I loved Chris Cleeve’s “Little Bee”. His writing was spectacular and I liked the two perspectives from a little girl and an older woman. This realization may be why I felt “Incendiary” fell flat for me because it was just from the voice of the unstable woman. I needed more focus on the ultimate sadness behind the events rather than the jaw dropping nightmare of it all. It was all very one-sided from my viewpoint, a selfish and gross woman.

This was a no for me but I do always find it fascinating when one book can be so great by an author and another can be a flop, so I do not regret picking this up. Also, please note “Incendiary” was Chris Cleeve’s first book and “Little Bee” was his second. Even more interesting!



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