Out of the Ashes by Kara Thomas Review

Out of the Ashes by Kara Thomas is an appealing mix of psychological drama and a slightly slow-burning mystery. Read the full review.

Out of the Ashes Synopsis

A woman’s investigation into her family’s murders uncovers lies, secrets, and dangerous truths in a heart-wrenching novel of suspense.

When she was thirteen years old, Samantha Newsom’s family was murdered and their Catskills farmhouse set ablaze in an unsolved crime that left nothing behind but ashes.

Twenty-two years later, Sam is pulled back to her hometown of Carney, New York, under the shadows of the grim tragedy she’s never forgotten or forgiven. Authorities mishandled the evidence, false rumors were seeded about her family, suspects yielded nothing, and the case went cold. Not anymore. Investigator Travis Meacham has been assigned to the case, and he has news for Sam: a prison inmate has come forward with a shocking admission. Sam’s baby sister, presumed dead in the fire, made it out of the house that night.

It’s not the only reveal that upends everything Sam thinks she knows about the crime and her family. But Carney protects its secrets. And this time, Sam might not be able to escape the town alive.

Thomas & Mercer (2023)

Genre(s) Mystery & Thrillers

Kara Thomas | Pub Date May 01, 2023 | ISBN 9781662509537 | 287 Pages

Book Review

When her mother’s foster brother dies, Samantha Newsom returns to her hometown and gets pulled back into a tragedy that happened over twenty years before. When Samantha was thirteen, someone murdered her parents before setting fire to the family home, which burned down with her parent’s bodies and baby sister inside. The police never identified the killer. Raised by aunt, Samantha later moved away, went to college and became a nurse and tried to get on with her life as best she could. But when a state investigator contacts her and tells her he is reopening the investigation into the murders, she learns new information about the crimes and begins investigating on her own, determined to learn what happened to her family.

Samantha’s strong emotional drive to find out what happened to her family is understandable and makes her an engaging character lead that it’s easy to feel empathy for. But her passion to learn the truth causes Samantha to behave a little too recklessly with her own safety, a writing technique that builds tension and high suspense by design. In Out of the Ashes, Thomas cultivates the psychological intrigue using a first-person character viewpoint narrative but offers readers more than only one vibrant and compelling character in this story told in highly accessible prose.

This novel is not without its weaknesses. Only about the halfway point did the pacing produce a strong desire to keep turning the pages, but the pacing picked up nicely down the stretch. Overall, I found the book an engaging mix of psychological drama and mystery, which I enjoy reading, with twists that readers will enjoy and not likely see coming.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.

Book rating: ★★★★

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