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Thrills, Twists, Murder: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I have definitely been in a reading slump since the beginning of the fall semester and it seems like every book I pick up can’t keep me from falling asleep in the little time I do have to read. But Paula Hawkins’s A Slow Fire Burning was so amazing that I could not put it down –– homework be damned!

Although you should really stop reading this right now and go get yourself a copy of the book, I’ll give you proof of how good this book is –– without giving away major spoilers.  


This thriller begins with the murder of a young man on his London houseboat, which quickly sets three storylines into motion by following three different women.

Miriam is the nosy neighbour who found the victim but seems to be keeping something from the man’s family and the police, Laura is the disturbed young woman who was last seen with the victim, and Carla is the young man’s aunt who is already mourning another death in the family.

Each of these women has a bone to pick and is burning with resentment. But how far will each of them go to ensure justice has been served? Who will be left with peace and who with turmoil? These are the questions you’ll ask yourself as you dive into this contemporary murder mystery.


Normally, if I can’t identify with a character or even dislike them, I have a hard time enjoying or finishing a book. But the mystery of each character’s past left even me reading on to figure out who they are and who might have been the culprit.

Each has a troubled past, albeit for very different reasons, and Hawkins doesn’t let you wholly know anything until the very end of the book. Though, she does give hints and tips that lead you in one direction and then the opposite!

The side characters are even more enjoyable, and while you don’t read a lot about them, you definitely get a sense of who each person is and either absolutely love or tremendously hate them. 


As you can tell, there are twists and turns throughout the entire novel, but that doesn’t stop Hawkins from introducing important themes and struggles throughout the book.

Through the different main characters and side characters, themes of family, love, and trust are all broken down until we can’t tell who’s the ‘good guy’ anymore. Themes of revenge and perseverance are quite clearly the shining star –– or should I say flame –– of the thriller, where struggles of abuse, addiction, and manipulation enflame the storyline. 

Overall Rating

Overall, I would give this thriller 5 stars for Hawkins’s incredible writing text, twists and turns, and maddingly engaging chapters which each leave you wanting more. I think anyone who enjoys thriller and mystery novels or enjoyed books like Big Little Lies and The Woman in the Window will be absolutely absorbed in this book. But don’t take my word for it –– read it yourself!

Rachel Fiset

Carleton '23

Rachel is a Journalism and Political Science combined honours student. She loves to write, read, and learn any way she can! Rachel enjoys keeping busy, and along with HerCampus is involved with The Charlatan, CKCU 93.1 FM, Book Ravens, and the Campus Activity Board.
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