Thank you to Sophie Ransom for my spot on this blog tour and for my gifted copy of the book, allowing me to read and express my own views of this book.
Eleven guests. Three nights. One murderer.
In a stately mansion in the Hertfordshire countryside, sisters Lois and Ebba prepare to launch their new venture. Archipelago is an exploitation-free tech company whose virtual reality game promises to unite worlds of technology, politics and the environment.
Invited to the launch party are their celebrity investors: a glamorous British couple, a brooding Swedish financier, a Dutch banker and his film star wife and a controversial politician – Marieke – who is receiving death threats for her crusade against modern slavery.
DCI Maarten Jansen has been summoned to join the house party. He is sure the threats are from online trolls with nothing better to do – he’s only offering police protection because his boss wants to put the VIP guests at ease. But when eight of the guests are involved in a suspicious helicopter crash, Maarten starts to uncover long buried secrets – and a murderer in their midst….
I was hooked right from the prologue of this book as a major incident occurs on the Roman amphitheatre set in the grounds of Ostle House, the home of Lois and Ebba. At the time Lois and Iqbal are in the house as they see a black mass falling to the ground.
The story is told in three parts, going back 24 hrs from the prologue occasionally jumping back to the now and then, so before the incident and after. Told from the points of view of Lois, Maarten, Filip and Iqbal.
It’s a big weekend for Lois and Ebba, a project they have been working on for two years. Their company Archipelago is something they are proud of, their policy is to put People before Profits. Their father had died of a heart attack after losing everything he had. It was now Lois and Ebba’s dream to be successful in their fathers memory. Whilst in Dhaka in 2012 there had been a fire in a factory where the workers conditions were bad. Lois had nearly died in that fire, Iqbal had rescued her, after the fire Iqbal’s wife Rajita had vanished, his best friend Obaidur had also vanished he had searched for them both but had had no luck finding them. He had come to England with Lois and Ebba and worked with them. But he still maintained a search for his wife and friend, hoping he would one day find them both.
The weekend is getting everyone together to sign papers and make an announcement to the press about a new VR game being launched as well as a franchise. Unfortunately one of the guests Marieke Vasser has been receiving death threats, she is a prominent person in Holland promoting the fair treatment of workers, trying to eliminate modern slavery in the factories, but it means it will cost the businesses millions. DCI Maarten Jansen is to watch over the weekend to make sure Marieke is safe, with strict instructions from his boss, Maarten is convinced it is just trolls on the internet and that there is no real threat, but as the house will have VIP’s his boss doesn’t want to risk it, so with two officers outside and Maarten on duty all weekend what could go wrong? Friday evening is due to kick off with a meal to which Maarten’s wife is invited to as well. Saturday a helicopter will take the guests to see and try out the game and see what Lois has come up with. Followed by contracts being signed and a big press announcement. The deal is worth millions to all the main people concerned Filip a wealthy banker married to glamorous actress Sophie, Aksel, a Swedish financier, Richard and Sarah.
All the guests arrive in time for Friday evenings dinner except for Filip’s wife Sophie who may or may not attend, their marriage seems very strained. What is going on there? Filip seems able to talk with Marieke but not his wife, who seems more talkative with Aksel. Iqbal receives an email from his old friend Obaidur with information regarding the upcoming deal, as well as a possibility of knowing where Rajita is. Filip has news that the deal is not as straightforward as it has seemed at first. Even DCI Jansen seems to have secrets regarding himself and One of the party, things he hasn’t told his wife, as well as a guilty conscience over something that happened in Holland before he came to work in the UK what had happened?
This is at times an edge of your seat read, not knowing what was happening with each character, they all seemed to have things to hide. This keeps you absolutely engaged throughout the tension building, gradually, trying to work out what is happening. I had an idea who was involved but I wasn’t sure until the very end of the book if my guesses were going to be right or not.
This is a brilliantly written story, with characters you either like or really dislike. They are believable, three dimensional. You feel Lois’s anxiety as she worries about the weekend, Iqbal’s anxiety over his missing wife and friend, as well as Filip’s anxiety over his marriage and how it affects his relationship with his wife, his lack of confidence in himself. I couldn’t put the book down, I tried to go to sleep at around 2 am but found myself needing to read on so picked it up again and read for another hour. Finishing it the following morning. With a couple of bits I really didn’t see coming. An absolutely riveting ending that worked well. Full of jealousy, competition and blackmail. With a theme of modern day slavery running throughout the background. I loved how complex it all seemed, with so much going on with every character, but the ending was cleverly and neatly packaged answering all questions. A brilliant 5⭐️ read. I look forward to more books from this author.
I would like to thank #HeadofZeus for an ARC of this book, all opinions and views are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachael Blok is a rising star in crime fiction. Her novels blend elements of police procedural and psychological thriller, and she has won critical acclaim for her lyrical prose, ratcheting tensions and atmosphere of foreboding.
Into the Fire is a classic style house party whodunnit with a modern twist. It’s a business deal – but the product is VR. It is full of jealousy, competition and blackmail, and how anxiety can affect relationships. Into the Fire highlights slavery, but modern day slavery. There is one character, Iqbal, whose character was inspired by the 2013 fire in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, which brought an entire building crashing down. Over 1,000 people died. Lack of safety measures in the factories was known to be a serious risk before the incident, with hundreds dying from incidents in factories in the preceding months. Rachael wanted him to be successful in his own right after the incident, but he spends his remaining time looking for his wife and his best friend whom he lost in the fire.
Rachael grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London Comprehensive and is now a full-time writer living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.