📖The Burning Girls by Rita Herron (Ellie Reeves Book 3)

The remote town of Crooked Creek has barely recovered from its most recent tragedy when wildfires tear through the mountains. Detective Ellie Reeves is grappling with her own heartbreak––she has just discovered she was adopted and that her childhood was a lie.

Under the scorching summer sun, Ellie is called to a river where a body has been found. She spots a lone woman’s shoe caught in a nearby tangle of vines, and a pearl necklace scattered by the water’s edge. The remains are surrounded by a circle of stones, which Ellie is certain means something. Was the victim––whoever she was––caught in the fire or is something more sinister at play?

The Fourth of July usually means festivals and fireworks, but when another body turns up the town is left in tatters. A young girl with dark hair lies dead, surrounded by stones, smoke drifting in the air. Thanks to an engraved silver necklace, Ellie identifies the body as eighteen-year-old Katie Lee Curtis, and the diary she finds hidden under the teenager’s mattress could get her close to the killer.

With two victims in less than twenty-four hours, it’s clear Ellie’s up against a serial killer, and she vows that no more innocent girls will be sacrificed. For her, every day is a battle to come to terms with her past, but when this case becomes personal, will she win?

In an oddly rare occurrence, I actually correctly guessed the killer within the first three chapters. It was just a feeling I had. I did doubt my theory as I continued reading but I always came back to the same person. This baffled me because to me, the killer in question was so far out of the box of contenders that I have no idea why I fixated on them so much. I guess since I have been on a crime kick recently – that my mind has shifted into it’s ‘crime theory box’ and has begun ‘thinking outside the box’ more. Either that or I’m psychic and I’m more inclined to believe it’s the former.

So, The Burning Girls is the third book in the Ellie Reeves series. At this point I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t want to live in Bluff county with all the murders happening there. I do hope the real Appalachian Trail isn’t filled with as many murders as I’ve read over the course of this series.

Coming off book two, Ellie is recovering from almost getting killed by another murderer and has, as usual, thrown herself into another case without taking a breather. Taking a moment for quiet contemplation just isn’t in Ellie’s character. A lot was uncovered in book two in terms of Ellie and her past, so in moving through this book there was a defined plot set to explore that.

The killer specific chapters were a little creepy and Herron did a tremendous job at hiding who the killer was. We also have the chapters from Eula’s point of view (the lady who hears the dead) and here we get to learn more about her and why she has been featured in this book and the books before. This book had a more compelling side to it, at least it felt that way. I may just be more invested now I’ve cemented myself into the series.

I did find it interesting how the crime plot was interspersed with the complication of hot weather and forest fires. It added a new element to the storyline that made it more captivating, and, in a way, more realistic.

Derrick returns to help Ellie and there are definite sparks flying from his end of things but in regard to Ellie, I don’t think she’s made her mind up as to whether Derrick or Cord should get her romantic feelings. She’s far too committed to her job and stubborn to give up any independence or admit any emotions or feelings.

The main crime plot is an idea I’ve seen many variations from over the years. It’s a scenario that unfortunately was a reality in some form for quite a time in the past. So, when I read books now with this crime plot, I always feel a little weight inside me knowing that real atrocities like this were once a common occurrence.

I didn’t get my usual adrenaline fuelled beating heart anxiety that I sometimes get when reading detective crimes or crime thrillers, but I was very much addicted to reading this. I completed it over two days and the only reason it took me more than one day was because I was with family!

As I’ve stated in my reviews for the previous two books, there is the issue with short chapters. This book had over 130 chapters. This may be a personal opinion, but I just find it irritating. There is no need for multiple 1 page chapters – unless they are inserted POVs like a killers – but so many of the chapters could have been combined into one.

I am starting to feel a sense of familiarity and warmth with this series and I’m glad I discovered it.

I give this thriller: ✨✨✨✨✨

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