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The Burning
Cover of The Burning
The Burning
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
Things get personal for Deputy Coroner Clay Edison when a murder hits close to home in this riveting, emotional thriller from the bestselling father-son team who write “brilliant, page-turning fiction” (Stephen King).

A raging wildfire. A massive blackout. A wealthy man shot to death in his palatial hilltop home.
 
For Clay Edison, it’s all in a day’s work. As a deputy coroner, caring for the dead, he speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. He prides himself on an unflinching commitment to the truth. Even when it gets him into trouble.
 
Then, while working the murder scene, Clay is horrified to discover a link to his brother, Luke. Horrified. But not surprised. Luke is fresh out of prison and struggling to stay on the straight and narrow.
 
And now he’s gone AWOL.
 
The race is on for Clay to find him before anyone else can. Confronted with Luke’s legacy of violence, Clay is forced to reckon with his own suspicions, resentments, and loyalties. Is his brother a killer? Or could he be the victim in all of this, too?
 
This is Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman at their most affecting and page-turning—a harrowing collision of family, revenge, and murder.
Things get personal for Deputy Coroner Clay Edison when a murder hits close to home in this riveting, emotional thriller from the bestselling father-son team who write “brilliant, page-turning fiction” (Stephen King).

A raging wildfire. A massive blackout. A wealthy man shot to death in his palatial hilltop home.
 
For Clay Edison, it’s all in a day’s work. As a deputy coroner, caring for the dead, he speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. He prides himself on an unflinching commitment to the truth. Even when it gets him into trouble.
 
Then, while working the murder scene, Clay is horrified to discover a link to his brother, Luke. Horrified. But not surprised. Luke is fresh out of prison and struggling to stay on the straight and narrow.
 
And now he’s gone AWOL.
 
The race is on for Clay to find him before anyone else can. Confronted with Luke’s legacy of violence, Clay is forced to reckon with his own suspicions, resentments, and loyalties. Is his brother a killer? Or could he be the victim in all of this, too?
 
This is Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman at their most affecting and page-turning—a harrowing collision of family, revenge, and murder.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    CHAPTER 1

    Monday. Nineteen hours in the dark.

    The dead man lived up the hill. We could have walked, if the world wasn’t ending and we didn’t have to bring him back.

    But it was and we did, so Harkless and I suited up and went out to the parking lot. As we exited the building a stunning fist of heat descended on us. The nearest wildfire was thirty miles away. Gritty sky and roaring air gave the illusion it was right over the ridge, climbing fast.

    The apocalypse smells like a campfire and glimmers gold.

    Through fierce raking wind we hurried to the body van, got in, and slammed the doors.

    Above his respirator mask Harkless kept blinking. “God.”

    He pulled the mask down over his chin and wiped at the sweat ringing his lips. “You know where we’re going?”

    I nodded and started the van.

    We climbed a steep, peaceful residential neighborhood crammed with split-­level wood-­frame ranch homes built in the late fifties. Long before anybody could imagine that million-­acre fires, killing winds, and weeklong blackouts would become a season unto themselves. The houses weren’t under direct threat, but tight spacing and a uniform color scheme made them look like rows of matchbooks ready to ignite.

    No cars on the road. No children playing.

    Wind pummeled the van, rocking it from side to side.

    Scottish theme for street names: Aberdeen, Ayr, Dumfries, Inverness. Kilmarnock Court tapered south to a single potholed lane. Then large white painted letters issued a warning: begin private road. The paving beyond was fresher, darker, glassy.

    In lieu of a guardhouse, a stern sign limited access to members of the Chabot Park Summit Homeowners’ Association and their guests, forbidding parking, loitering, or hiking, and promising to tow.

    I eased the van over a speed bump. The gurneys jounced and gave a cough.

    Entering the development we passed through an invisible portal. The aesthetics changed as did the financial calculus. The guiding principle was no longer efficient rectangles but relaxed curves, the goal no longer maximizing units per acre but dollars per unit. Stately new-­builds shied back behind stone walls and high hedges. Slate roofs replaced asphalt tile. The architectural styles were varied. You had the money; you got what you wanted.

    Less a community than a series of fortresses.

    “I had no idea this was here,” Harkless said.

    This: rich people. Here: less than two miles from the county morgue.

    We banked through stands of eucalyptus and California live oak to reach a long driveway that sloped up and out of view. An ultramodern fence of black metal slats set between concrete pillars stretched at street level. Double gates lay open. Flanking them were two larger pillars, one of which sported a security camera.

    An Oakland PD cruiser with nobody at the wheel blocked the path. We waited for someone to appear.

    “Rise and shine, sweetheart,” Harkless said.

    He leaned over and thumped the horn.

    A uniform waddled out from behind a sycamore, tugging up his fly. “Sorry.”

    He signed us in and spoke into his shoulder. “Coroner’s here.”

    The driveway was longer than I’d realized, switchbacking up through buckthorn, sagebrush, coffeeberry, manzanita—­native species curated to simulate wildness. The effect was undone by drip tubes bulging through the ground cover like junkie veins. By the time we leveled out, we’d gained seventy feet of elevation.

    The hilltop had been decapitated, smoothed, plumbed,...

About the Author-
  • Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than forty crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, True Detectives, and The Murderer’s Daughter. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. With his son, bestselling novelist Jesse Kellerman, he co-authored Crime Scene, A Measure of Darkness, The Golem of Hollywood, and The Golem of Paris. He is also the author of two children’s books and numerous nonfiction works, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children and With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California and New Mexico.

    Jesse Kellerman
    won the Princess Grace Award for best young American playwright and is the author of Sunstroke, Trouble (nominated for the ITW Thriller Award for Best Novel), The Genius (winner of the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle), The Executor, and Potboiler (nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel). He lives in California.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 19, 2021
    It’s wildfire season in Northern California, a time of “million-acre fires, killing winds, and weeklong blackouts,” in the Kellermans’ intriguing fourth mystery featuring Clay Edison, Alameda County’s deputy coroner (after 2020’s Half Moon Bay). Kitted out in a respirator mask, Clay makes his way to a crime scene on the sprawling estate of wealthy Rory Vandervelde, a collector of all things expensive, from sports memorabilia to rare automobiles, who has been shot dead. In the victim’s garage, Clay is shocked to find a late-’60s Camaro, painted a searing shade of green, which he identifies as belonging to his problematic younger brother, Luke. His suspicions mount when he can’t locate Luke. Faced with the need to protect his brother, Clay decides to run a clandestine investigation of his own. In doing so, he crosses ethical and professional borders, and soon his lies are “piling up like bad debt.” The troubled familial relationships play an integral part in the unraveling of the whodunit and the why, adding pathos to the riveting finale. Once again, the bestselling Kellermans provide food for thought along with a tidy mystery.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2021
    When coroner Clay Edison is called to the scene where wealthy businessman Rory Vandervelde has been brutally murdered, he has no idea this case will have dangerous repercussions for him and his family. Clay is stunned by the victim's vast collection of vintage cars, but after he sees a familiar green Camaro, he's puzzled, then disturbed. His brother, Luke, who's had a troubled life, including drug addiction and a prison term, owns an identical Camaro. But if this one is Luke's, how did it end up in Vandervelde's garage? Clay tries to contact Luke but discovers he's disappeared. Could Luke have been involved in Vandervelde's murder? As Clay tries to discover the truth, he realizes that both he and Luke are in danger, and he may need to circumvent the law to set matters right. This is another superb crime thriller from the prolific and talented father-and-son Kellermans. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area during one of the state's terrible wildfires, the story is vintage Kellerman(s): a riveting page-turner of a mystery with pulse-pounding action, and a compelling look at family dynamics and loyalty. The shock ending doesn't hurt, either.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 24, 2021

    Deputy coroner Clay Edison's fourth case (after Half Moon Bay) hits close to home. A raging wildfire blankets the San Francisco Bay Area in thick smoke. A lengthy power outage makes things worse. When Clay arrives at a well-hidden mansion, he finds the body of Rory Vandervelde, a wealthy man with valuable collections of cars, sports memorabilia, and more. An inventory of these collections leads Clay to his brother Luke, an ex-convict with substance abuse issues. When Luke's wife calls to say that her husband is missing, Clay knows that he needs to find him. As his own pregnant wife and young daughter are visiting family in Los Angeles to escape the smoke, he can spend more time on his undercover search. He discovers ties to past crimes, bends enough rules to get himself in major trouble, and endangers his life in the process. VERDICT As always, the Kellermans guarantee that readers will turn pages rapidly to enjoy the complex characters and intricate plot turns. It's another winner for mystery readers.

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Novel
Jonathan Kellerman
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