"Weeping" is an arson investigator's terms, and also the state that befalls the grief-stricken survivors of a fire. So it is with a raised eyebrow and incipient suspicion that New York claims representative Fritillary Quilter encounters cool, calculating, and unemotional Faith Browning, whose sister Dorsey has just burned to death in their family home.
When Faith puts in a claim without first giving the insurance company a chance to conduct a fire investigation, Tilly is teamed with arson pro Isaac "Ike" Blessing. Tilly and Ike must sift through the ashes to find the truth.
Written by a real-life private eye and fire investigator, Weeping is fueled by technical authority, lively characters, and stylish prose.
Edgar nominee Reuben (Julian Solo) launches a new mystery series featuring a young New York insurance claims investigator who will either charm or cloy, depending on how you feel about Nancy Drew. Fritillary "Tilly" Quilter and arson expert Isaac "Ike" Blessing, who happened to probe the fire Tilly accidentally started years before as a teenage babysitter, team up to look into a suspicious claim put in by Faith Browning after her sister Dorsey dies in an apartment blaze. The pair dutifully grill a conventional circle of suspects, including a spurned suitor and a married lover, with the veteran Ike taking much of the lead while Tilly focuses on reconstructing the victim's life. Details of Tilly's temporary jobs before she discovered her calling slow the narrative, while the step-by-step arson investigation proceeds a bit ploddingly. Despite the author's own expertise as a professional fire investigator, her efforts to share the fascination for the minutiae of her craft with the reader fall short. Little suspense surrounds the fire's origin, and the murderer's identity will be unsurprising to most. Tilly's crush on Ike and her na vete make her seem more like a star-struck teenager than an independent professional. Still, Tilly has an engaging voice that will appeal particularly to younger readers who care more about character than crime. FYI:Reuben is also the author of two mysteries, Origin and Cause (1994) and Spent Matches (1996), about arson investigator Wylie Nolan and attorney Max Bramble.