Cover Image: A Fire in the Night

A Fire in the Night

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Member Reviews

This type of thriller is a little out of my comfort zone. I'm not a huge fan of Spy Thrillers, so I was a little disappointed when the story started to read like one. Though its not a Jason Bourne book, it seemed like it wasn't far from it. Plenty of gun fighting, Special Ops type creeping, and  hidden identities.  Though it kept the book full of action, it was not thrilling. 
  I did enjoy the relationship between Nick and his niece, Annalise. Nick's reaction to suddenly having to take care of a teenager was  completely believable. But this wasn't enough to make me love the book. Too many questions left unanswered, or explained away poorly. Too much chasing answers and reminiscing, not enough meat to the plot.
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History Professor Nick Anthony is living off the grid as much as he can. Still grieving the death of his wife, he values the solitude. A knock on the door brings horrific news .. his brother, his brother's wife die in a house fire. His teenage niece is missing.

He didn't even know he had a niece ... is she also a victim .. or a suspect?

He finds out when she shows up on his doorstep. She has something to give him ... something from his brother the night they died. And she was a witness to men leaving her home when it was set on fire. Definitely a murder. But why?

Unfortunately one of the men spotted her and now they are searching for her. Not only because she's a witness .. but because whatever her father gave her is mighty dangerous to someone.

When the man finally locates her in Nick's cabin, figures a retired professor will be easy enough to handle. But Nick has a hidden past of his own—and more than a few deadly tricks up his sleeve.

This is a fast-moving, cleverly written plot with deftly drawn characters. The relationship that develops between he and his niece were great... at first, neither trusting the other. There are twists and turns that lead to an explosive conclusion. Definitely kept me glued to the book!

Many thanks to the author / Crooked Lane Books / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime fiction. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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A Fire In The Night by Christopher Swann

When Nick’s brother and sister-in-law die in a house fire, he finds out he has a niece, Annalise, who is missing.

This was a very unique mystery thriller.  Lots of warfare going on between the good guys and the bad ones.  Nice Character development. I recommend this book.
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Nick Anthony is a professor of medieval history who retired to take care of his wife, but after she dies, he's left with little to do but grieve. But then he discovers that he has a teenaged niece, Annaliese, daughter of his estranged brother. She arrives at Nick's house, nearly hysterical, and explains that her parents were murdered, their house burned, and that the bad guys are now after her. Nick knew that his brother often made shady business deals, but this is a whole new level of insanity.
But Annaliese was wise to show up at her Uncle Nick's house, because there's more to him than an affinity for history.
The pacing in this book was so good that I read it in two sittings!
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Nick Anthony has retreated to his cabin in the middle of nowhere after the death of his wife. Retired now, he whiles away his time at the cabin in peace.

That peace is shattered when a local deputy appears at his door to tell him that his estranged brother and his sister-in-law have been killed in a house fire. He's shocked, of course, but not as shocked as he is when he finds out he has a niece, Annalise - now on the run and the primary suspect.

Annalise, for her part, is running toward her uncle, as her father told her to, in possession of a flash drive she was told to take. She has no idea what's on that drive, but bad guy Cole does: he and his mercenary teams are on her trail.

There's a flashback that doesn't make a lot of immediate sense, but be patient, the significance of it will be revealed. 

Nick, though, is not just a mild-mannered professor. He's an ex spy, with skills that Cole and his gang of baddies don't know about. When Annalise arrives, Nick sets about trying to build a relationship with her, and she eventually thaws. To read the drive, they have to go to a public library. Cole sends a crew to snatch them up, because there's some kind of whizbang thing that alerts when the drive is accessed. Highly improbable, but it's a staple these days of thrillers than some hacker can break into just about anything, so just roll with it.

There's a big showdown at the cabin, of course, and the final fight scene is quite enjoyable - that fight alone gets five stars from me.

The ending is what you might think and expect.

A solid four out of five stars, and good for a day (or weekend if you're not a straight-through reader) of escapism.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the reading copy.
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I had the pleasure of reading Never Look Back by @christopher_swann last fall. So when Crooked Lane Books reached out to me to read and review his newest book, A Fire in the Night, I was so excited! 

This book is so action packed! It starts with Annalist, a 16 yr old fleeing her burning home with only a flash drive and some instructions from her father to find an uncle she’s never met. Hired men see Annalise flee and they are on the hunt for her- and the flash drive. Her uncle Nick is very mysterious, he is a retired professor and former Marine. But he might also be a CIA agent or even a spy? He definitely knows what to do. He tries to figure out what his brother wanted him to do with this information while also protecting his niece. 

I do think this is pretty different from Swann’s last novel, but I still really enjoyed it. It was a very time novel since Nick and Annalise’s family is half Afghani and there’s a lot of talk about their mother’s life in Afghanistan. There’s also a discussion of Syria and the real President Assad and what he has done to his own people. So this book is definitely not a light read.

The writing is excellent and it definitely keeps you in your toes. Thank you to @crookedlanebooks and the author for my gifted copy. The book is out on September 7.
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A Fire in the Night by Christopher Swann is a highly recommended thriller.

Since his wife's death a year earlier, Nick Anthony, a retired professor of medieval history, has lived a quiet secluded life in the North Carolina mountains. When county Deputy Joshua Sams shows up at his house to inform him that the bodies of his estranged brother, Jay, and sister-in-law have been found after their Tampa, Florida home was set on fire, Nick learns that it appears to have been a double homicide and that their daughter, Annalise, a niece he didn't know existed, is missing. When an intruder later turns up on his porch, obviously ill and feverish, it is Annalise. After he brings her back to health, she has information, a map and thumb drive, that her dad wanted her to get to Nick.

At the same time Cole and his team of private military contractors have realized that Annalise was not killed in the house fire and has escaped with the information they are being paid to recover from Jay. Now the lethal team must find Annalise and recover the information. They will let nothing stand in their way. As they try to track Annalise's location, what they don't know is that Nick exists, let alone that he has some skills and abilities in his past beyond his academic career.

Perfect reading for escapism, A Fire in the Night is a fast paced literary thriller that is tightly plotted without a lot of extraneous details or multiple plot threads, which works well in this story. The writing is excellent, which I expected after Swann's last novel, Never Turn Back. There might be a little suspension of disbelief over some of the skills the characters possess, but not enough to detract from the narrative. The descriptive writing perfectly sets up the locations and scenes. The characters believably inhabit the world created here. The threat Nick and Annalise face is real and tension will mount as the men searching for Annalise get closer and closer.

Both Nick and Annalise are fully realized, developed characters who are realistically depicted. They are not perfect people, but you will like both of them, believe in them, and hope they both live to see another day. Annalise is portrayed as a believable teenager under unbelievable stress. Nick is grieving and surprised by Annalise's existence, but manages to do the right thing while thinking about the dialogue he and his wife would have had about the situations. The bad guys are seriously scary and threatening, but also feel like real individuals, which makes them more menacing in many ways.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Crooked Lane Books.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Amazon.
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I quite enjoyed this read! The unravelling of the story was done masterfully, and the action scenes were nail biting. 

Many thanks to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the ARC. I enjoyed reading it!
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When a Deputy Sheriff shows up one night at Nicks remote cabin, he’s bringing bad news.  Nick’s brother, Jay, and his wife, Carol, have died in a house fire and their sixteen year old daughter, Annalise is missing.  Nick hasn’t seen his brother for twenty years and has no idea he even had a niece.  Jay has always been a handful, always looking for the next best thing.  Always a schemer, but was the fire more than an accident?  Did he dig himself in too deep this time?  When Annalise shows up at Nick’s cabin, the two pair up to find out.  Why were there men at the scene of the fire?  Who were they and is Annalise safe?  Action packed throughout, you just can’t help rooting for Nick and Annalise.  I wouldn’t mind seeing them in future books!
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Retired Professor Nick Anthony spends his time in his cabin in the North Carolina mountains, remembering his recently deceased wife. Deputy Joshua Sams brings news that Nick's brother and sister-in-law died in a fire that destroyed their house. Since it's been over 20 years since Nick saw his brother Jay, he is surprised to find he has a niece, Annalise,16 years old and missing.

Within two days, Annalise shows up and informs Nick that she witnesses her folks' murder, and now the killers are chasing her. Christopher Swann writes an intelligent thriller with realistic characters, a few surprises, appropriate twists, and delivers the well-conceived plot at a comfortable pace
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I really enjoyed the author’s previous book, Never Turn Back, so when I saw this one I knew I wanted to read it. 

Retired history professor Nick Anthony lives in splendid isolation in a very secluded area. He has no phone and no internet. Since his wife Ellie died he has kind of opted out. All his peace is shattered one morning when he finds a smallish person shivering on his veranda - so that’s what he heard last night! The person turns out to be his 16 year old niece Annalise whose existence he didn’t even know about. 

She is the daughter of his younger brother, Jay. The two brothers haven’t been close in adulthood. But Annalise has come to Nick in desperation as her parents have been murdered and her home burnt down. She was lucky not to be there at the time but suspects ‘they’ will be looking for her as her father entrusted her with some information at the last minute.

It turns out she was wise to run because ‘they’ are certainly looking for her. They want a certain item that her father had. Annalise doesn’t have it but the item she is to give Nick contains enough clues to get to the item ‘they’ are after. 

This was a fast paced thriller with plenty of intrigue and action. Of course things are not all as they seem and her uncle Nick wasn’t JUST a history professor. Which is a good thing as he needs his wits about him to get them out out this very sticky situation. Annalise was a delight, she was smart and very brave and had just enough attitude to be a credible teenager!

I really enjoyed this fairly quick read. The pace never lagged and the action was compelling and story seemed plausible enough for this type of thriller. I’d be keen to read a sequel but I think the author writes stand alone books, which is good. This was certainly different from his previous book but was possibly even better. I certainly recommend this to thriller fans. Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the much appreciated ARC which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly.
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(3.5 stars)

I enjoyed Christopher Swann's previous novel (Never Turn Back) so much so that I requested this book after seeing that it's his latest release. 

Part suspense and part spy thriller, this story revolves around a retired history professor finding retreat in an isolated North Carolina mountains after the death of his wife and how his quiet life is turned upside down when a teenage girl barges into his life one day and claims that she is his niece. 

Nick Anthony has not been in contact with his younger brother for years and their relationship is gradually explained as the story progresses. Despite the distance, he is still shocked when he learns that his estranged brother and sister-in-law died in a house fire and that he has a niece who's managed to find him amid everything else. Annalise couldn't trust anyone, but she knew that she should seek her uncle's help especially learning that her parents' death wasn't an accident and the mysterious information she was told to pass on to her uncle before their death. And on top of it, she's being pursued by a bunch of hired private military contractors for the piece of information she's carrying. Nick doesn't know what kind of business and who his late brother had been dealing with, but he's adamant to find out about his hidden past as well as to protect Annalise from any harm. But what the reader didn't know is, Nick has his own hidden past, too. 

While the plot isn't new, I've to say I enjoyed reading about Nick as the main character and his relationship with Annalise. There are, of course, some intense moments and the cat-and-mouse chase but surprisingly, I was more focused on the interactions between uncle and niece; and Annalise for her courage and her fighting spirit. I liked this book but not as much as Never Turn Back but overall it was still a satisfying read.
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Christopher Swann has written a compulsively readable thriller set in the North Carolina mountains. The story focuses on Nick, a retired professor mourning the loss of his wife, and his niece Annalise, who was unknown to him until she shows up on his doorstep. The rest involves murder, bad guys, flashbacks, and a secret past in the middle east. There is lots of drama and tension and I enjoyed getting to know the small-town characters. I've read all of Swann's books and look forward to future works.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
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Nick Anthony is in mourning for his beloved wife who recently died of pancreatic cancer when he learns of the death of his estranged brother and sister-in-law and also learns that he has a teenage niece who has gone missing. 

When his niece Annalise shows up at his cabin door in the mountains of North Carolina, Nick is forced to move beyond his paralyzing grief if he wants to keep her alive. His brother was mixed up in some sort of shady deal in the Middle East and now hired mercenaries want the information he left with her. Nick will have to dust off skills he learned as a former CIA officer and call on his former associates because the mercenaries are getting closer and aren't hesitant to kill anyone who gets in their way.

This story was fast-paced and thrilling. I really liked both Nick and Annalise who were both dealing with lots of issues and who didn't know each other at all. Watching them deal with their separate griefs and get to know each other under very difficult situations was intriguing. It was interesting to have part of the story told from the viewpoint of the head of the mercenaries because he was a totally amoral character who was mentally falling apart as the story proceeded. 

I recommend this story. I couldn't put it down.
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Popular professor Nick Anthony is grieving over the untimely death of his wife. He decided he needs to be alone and moves to a mountain cabin in North Carolina.
However, when there is a mysteries house fire that caused the death of his brother and sister-in-law and his niece Annalise is missing, he knows he needs to help especially when his niece shows up on his doorstep.
There are secrets galore. What information did his brother and sister-in-law have that caused their deaths? In fact, what secret does Nick have? 
Private Military Contractor Cole sets out to find the information and is positive Annalise has what he is wants.

Not quite the thriller I had hoped. I hung in there as I was curious and I liked Annalise.
I am not a fan of nasty language; true things got nasty but the language got distracting.  

Want to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for this early release granted to me for my honest professional opinion.  
Publishing Release Date scheduled for September 7, 2021.
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A Fire In The Night by Christopher Swann is a pretty good thriller, though unfortunately, most readers won’t have the pleasure of taking this in as a summer beach read, given a release date of September.

Nick Anthony, a former university professor of medieval history and studies, now finds himself residing in a secluded cabin mourning the loss of his wife in the North Carolina mountains. Over the years for different reasons and slowly revealed in the novel, Nick has been estranged from his family and soon learns he has a teenage niece he has never met and that she is being sought by the police after her parents die in a suspicious house fire down in Florida.

Anthony’s niece then seeks out the uncle she has never met while carrying with her information from her dead father only meant for Nick’s eyes. Along the way, she is being pursued by a group of deadly hunters, seemingly with endless resources instantly available at their fingertips, which includes weapons and access to restricted information.

When the two meet, both wary of the other and with mistrust from the start, it is quickly learned characters in A Fire In The Night are not only more complex than initially revealed, but also may or may not be who or what one first believes them to be.

A Fire in the Night is well-written with developed characters and a plot that does not require complete disbelief and instead of being a decent summer read, will have to suffice for a decent fall read instead.

Fans of novels by other thriller writers like Lee Child and Gregg Hurwitz should also enjoy A Fire In The Night.

Netgalley provided an ARC of this novel for the promise of a fair review.

This review was originally published at
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Cabin/woods settings always draw me in.  There's just something so serene and tranquil about isolation where time is inconsequential.  Retired history professor and widower Nick Anthony needs to grieve in peace and the cabin is the ideal spot.  However, solitude and silence is shattered after a house fire claims the lives of his estranged brother and sister in law.  Annalise, their daughter Nick wasn't even aware of, wasn't in the house at the time and as her world falls to pieces around her is desperate to find shelter and answers.  She and Nick make an unlikely team as they go through their personal sorrows individually and together.

Meanwhile, Cole is anxious to get his hands on missing information he is convinced Annalise has and is prepared to move mountains to find it.

The story is an interesting one but I didn't feel tension or suspense as I had hoped.  There is also a ton of adult language which I felt detracted.  However, the atmosphere was great...I could envision scenes unfold in the woods.

My sincere thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read the early e-ARC of this book.
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Mitch Rapp Meets Henry McCord With A Dash of John Rambo. If you're a fan of Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp or the CBS drama Madam Secretary, you're going to like this tale. If you're not... you should still give this one a try, as it is a fun action tale set in the wilds of the lower Appalachian Mountains in the Carolinas featuring a former "history professor" who has a few skills history professors normally don't. And the way Nick Anthony *uses* his skills in this book... well, when the action starts up you might start getting flashes of one of America's action icons. ;) 

I happen to be a fan of all of those things named above (well, the earlier Rapp books anyway - which were some of my very first Kindle reads as I began making the transition to my now eReader Era), and for me as a native of the foothills of the region in question, this was truly great. This is the same general region I've gone to many vacations into over the years, and in fact is the same general region that Deliverance was filmed in. And for this Southern boy, finding novels set here that don't disparage our people and are kick-ass to boot... well, that's just awesome.

This book is set up primarily as a standalone, but with these characters and with at least one or two things dangling by the end, it could easily be seen as the beginning of a series that could potentially be as good or better than the Rapp series, so this reader in particular certainly urges the author to at least consider the possibilities. Very much recommended.
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I am not usually a fan of Mr. Swann's, but I wanted to give this one a try. Unfortunately it didn't do it for me, but I think plenty of readers will enjoy this story.
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What a thrilling read! I tore through this in just one sitting. 

The development of the storyline and the characters was incredible and had me gripped at every twist and turn! 

I cannot wait for this publication date.
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