Cover Image: Into the Fire

Into the Fire

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Member Reviews

Sisters Louis and Ebba, and their partner Iqbal, host 8 guests in the siblings’ old country manor to celebrate the launch of their company’s ground-breaking virtual reality game. The guests are all stakeholders, and 3 days might be too long to keep all their secrets hidden. Louis and Ebba planned the perfect party, every single detail, including the presence of DCI Jansen. However, it is not long before tension build, secrets start to leak… and someone dies.

The story was so promising, I was interested in this book from the get-go. Blok made one of my most beloved tropes her own. The atmosphere was superb, and though this was a slow burner, I felt that the pace was perfect for the story development. I love multiple POV’s and Blok chose the perfect characters as narrators, we also get some flashbacks to a pivotal moment in the recent past. I enjoyed most characters, especially the contrast between the sisters’ personalities. I just wish that Iqbal and Marieke had lived up to their potential.

This is a book I recommend, even though its writing style wasn’t for me. The physical book comes out on June 1st, but the kindle version is available now! I have purchased it on its release day, and Blok intrigued me enough to check the first two books in this series!

Thank you, Head of Zeus, NetGalley and Rachael Blok for providing me with an advanced copy of Blossom and Bud in exchange for an honest review.

#IntotheFire #NetGalley
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A familiar crime scenario of eleven people in an English mansion and one is killed – is there a murderer amongst them? Told from different character’s perspective in flashbacks as they gather to celebrate the launch of a new 3D computer game. The saga begins with a helicopter crash in the present and the various relationships and connections are then revealed in hindsight. Unfortunately, the story did not live up to expectations, with a lack lustre group of protagonists and lacking in suspense or tension, so only a two-star rating. With thanks to NetGalley and the author for a preview copy for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are freely given and totally my own.
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Really thrilling, intriguing and oh so engrossing. It’s like Agatha Christie in present day mixed with all the upheaval of immigration and the tragedy of what happened in the past and how vengeance can boil over into a chaotic mix of tragic, death and sometimes bad things do happen to people you hate. I loved the complexities in each character especially with the detective too. Absolutely gripping a must read.
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A quick and easy read that I found myself picking up after a long day to unwind. The characters are beautifully written and I came to love them within the first few pages and was rooting for them all the way to the end. At times I wanted to stop reading because I just wanted the experience to go on for longer. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The DCI Maarten Jansen series have been one of my favourite, recent crime fiction finds.  Whilst they tick all the desirable boxes for twists, tension, and great characters, they stand out from the crowd with their distinctive, fresh storylines, and the instantly recognisable cadence of the author’s writing style.  There are now three DCI Jansen books but each one is a self-contained story making this a very easy series to pick up at any point.

Into The Fire opens with a dramatic, catastrophic bang - quite literally.  In the very first chapter we are introduced to the key characters and the crux of the story … the bitter rivalries, simmering resentments, and toxic secrets swirling amongst a high-profile, extremely affluent group of individuals who are on the verge of launching a ground-breaking new immersive virtual reality gaming product into the global market. 

The company is called Archipelago and it’s the brainchild of Lois and Ebba Munch, and their close friend Iqbal.  Whilst their product is set to be a huge success, they’ve had to call upon significant investment, and yet these wealthy individuals could prove to be rather destructive for the fledgling company. The company is founded on strong ethical trading principles, and has secured the support of an outspoken Dutch politician who’s making waves - and enemies - with her high-profile campaign to wipe out unethical business practices.

Spanning a tightly-wound three-day period, the book follows events as the investors attend an exclusive dinner party and overnight stay at Lois and Ebba’s Hertfordshire mansion, the night before they’re all due to be flown by hybrid helicopter to London for a demonstration and media launch.  Among the guests are multi-millionaires, a famous actress, and the Dutch politician who’s recently started receiving handwritten death threats.  In addition to the uniformed police presence safeguarding the house, DCI Jansen is attending the dinner with his wife, Liv, who strikes up a rather enjoyable, wine-fuelled conversation with Filip, one of the investors.  With fine champagne loosening tongues, bolstering egos, and fanning the smouldering resentments, it’s not long before ill-concealed animosities bubble to the surface.  

As with the author’s two earlier books, the setting plays as much of a role in the mood of the story as the plot and characters do.  In this case, the privacy of the house, and the enforced seclusion of the event, along with misty autumnal countryside all serve to heighten the isolated sense of secrecy and subterfuge. 

Through intelligent plotting, the tense undercurrents and sense of unease percolate the ebb and flow of the chapters, making it impossible to feel comfortable. In Maarten’s own words, I feel like I’ve missed a page.  But that’s not a bad thing. It’s the unknowing sense of foreboding and an escalating tension that I’ve come to relish from these books.  We can’t quite see any of the characters completely or clearly, and there’s plenty of inter-character dynamics at play that keep the reader delightfully on edge.  And in this book it becomes clear that DCI Jansen has some secrets of his own; secrets he’s not shared with his wife, and yet two people attending this dinner party know all about them.

Unlike the two previous books, I felt DCI Jansen and his team were less prevalent than usual.  The weight of character content falls significantly towards Ebba and Lois, Iqbal, and the main investors.  It’s their relationships and rivalries that really drive the plot forwards, far more so than the investigation content.  For a crime thriller that contains two grizzly murders, a hand-delivered death threat, and some heavy-handed blackmail, this is a little unusual, but there are so many unknown elements and secrets among the Archipelago group that this format works rather well.  

The book is structured across two present-day timelines - even though the events only span a short, three day period.  This may sound unfeasible but it works incredibly well, as the chapters which are narrated by Maarten, Lois, Iqbal, and Filip, twist the threads of the present day and back stories with disorientating deftness. For each doubt they put to rest, they throw up new unknowns and cast new suspicions. This unsettling notion was magnified by the somewhat provocative and divisive natures of each of the main characters, with their vulnerabilities and close-guarded secrets being tantalisingly drawn out of them as the chapters progress, constantly shifting and skewing my grasp on the story.

The intensity of suspense, and pace of the twists and revelations increases superbly as the book nears its final chapters. It kept me guessing until the very last, brilliantly dramatic moments.  Any fan of crime fiction, suspense thrillers and murder mysteries will find Rachael Blok’s novels a hugely enjoyable addition to their book shelves.

Thank you #NetGalley for this advance electronic copy.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Head of Zeus for an advance copy of Into the Fire, the third novel to feature DCI Maarten Jansen of the St Albans Police.

An IT company is having a big launch on Saturday so the major stakeholders have been invited to the owners’ country house for the weekend. One of the guests, a prominent Dutch politician, has been receiving threats so Maarten is sent to the Friday evening dinner for security and reassurance. What he finds is secrets and uneasiness.

I thoroughly enjoyed Into the Fire which is a compelling tale of secrets, lies, personal animosities and relationships and murder. The novel opens with a literal bang on Saturday afternoon. This is helpfully labelled “Now” and then it flips back to Friday evening, labelled “Then”. This is needed as the novel flips between the then and now on a regular basis, and, to add to the mayhem, it is told from various points of view, also helpfully identified at the start of each chapter. I would have been totally lost otherwise. Strangely this does not make for a choppy read once the reader adapts to the rhythm, but, instead, is intriguing. None of the narrators knows what is going on so it’s full of secrets from the past, speculation and emotion. What is even more interesting is that several characters do not have a voice, but have either a motive or a dislike or distrust of some others, so the reader is free to indulge in their own speculation and boy, did I speculate. Needless to say I got it all totally wrong, as the twists can attest, but that didn’t stop me, although I remained clueless until the end. That’s not say there aren’t hints throughout the novel, it’s just that I interpreted them wrongly, as the author intends.

Not being a techie I was apprehensive about taking on a novel based in that world, as so many times it all goes over my head. I can confidently state that I didn’t have a problem as both the technical and financial stuff is all broad brushstrokes that even I could understand. The novel is more character and emotion driven, universal themes for all. Even Maarten Jansen has skin in this particular game.

It should be noted that while the appearance of DCI Maarten Jansen would suggest that the novel is a police procedural it really isn’t. He’s more of a catalyst for the unfolding events than the protagonist.

Into the Fire is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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I do love a mystery set in a country mansion. There is a party, a virtual reality game launch  and a murder. The third in the DCI Jansen series but I haven't read the earlier ones but it really doesnt matter.

A unique take on a locked room mystery with a few cliches but plenty of atmosphere
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Thank you to Netgalley and Head of Zeus of the arc of Into the Fire by Rachael Blok.

5 stars- this is the third installment in the DCI Jansen series, I Havent read the other two but wow this is great this is set in an English countryside,  in an old crumbling mansion and eleven people whom are famous in their field of work all go to the mansion as all of them have been invited to a party but not any ordinary party a 3 DAY ONE infact....  in which to celebrate the launch of this new ground breaking invention of a virtual reality game DCI Jansen gets called,  the reason for this is for protection in case of any attacks or unknown attacks which may happen/occur.  He is to deal with secrets, a lot of awkward tension as well as that there is a murderer amongst this... 

I loved this was such a unique original concept!  It was such a great one, the suspense, the mystery the thrills oh my!! such an amazing read

Highly recommend
5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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I love country house murder mysteries. This book is another great one that’s a throwback to the Agatha Christie genre.  I love the plot and the characters are so realistic.  I highly recommend this book.
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I had a few problems with this book. I felt it pushed the realms of plausibility with a reliance on coincidences and cliches. I also failed to care deeply about the characters. There were many elements - amphitheatre, links to Holland, factory fire, people trafficking, virtual reality, business - that were mentioned, weren't explored in depth, and didnt ring true.
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