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A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh

By Pamelascott


A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh

John Murray (e-book), 2014

369 pages

A Lovely Way to Burn is the first novel in Welsh’s Plague Times trilogy.


It doesn’t look like murder in a city full of death.  

A pandemic called ‘The Sweats’ is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie’s search for Simon’s killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of the dying city and a race with death.  


London witnessed three shootings that summer, by men who were part of the Establishment. The first was the Right Honourable Terry Blackwell, Tory MP for Hove who, instead of going to his constituency as planned, sat in a deck chair on the balcony of his Thames-side apartment one sweltering Saturday in June and shot dead six holidaymakers. 


Welsh offers readers something very original with A Lovely Way to Burn. This is not your typical end-of-the-world novel that usually deals with surviving in a dying, hostile world or trying to-rebuild civilization. Welsh uses the end of the world as an interesting back-drop to tell a very different story. In a world where a plague is causing people to drop like flies how do you make someone care about a murder? I loved the concept of A Lovely Way to Burn and it’s the main reason I bought this novel. I love it when writers try something different and less run-of-the-mill.

I loved Stevie’s character. I thought she was great. Her determination to prove her boyfriend was murdered and bring his killers to justice was admirable. She made a great heroine. In the early few chapters of A Lovely Way to Burn she comes across as quite weak and vulnerable but then she grows a pair and starts to kick ass! Nice. She is incredibly brave given the circumstances. If I had been her I’d have hidden in my house pissing my diddies until The Sweats killed me or someone came along and saved me. The other characters were also well written. A Lovely Way to Burn had a good cast of strong characters.

I loved the bleak, dying world Welsh creates in A Lovely Way to Burn. It reminded me a little of The Stand by Stephen King. The Sweats has a lot in common with Captain Tripps. That’s a good thing and a compliment believe me. In my opinion, The Stand by Stephen King is right up there as one of the greatest novels ever written so a writer really needs to impress me to compare anything to King’s masterpiece. There are some great, chilling scenes with Stevie investigating Simon’s death in world where bodies are piling up all over the place, the streets are filled with riots and armed guards struggle to maintain order.

I loved the ending of A Lovely Way to Burn. All the tension and drama and building of suspense pays off. I am curious to see what happens in the second part of the trilogy though because A Lovely Way to Burn is a complete story. It doesn’t end on a cliff hanger or anything and there seems to be nothing left to tell. I am intrigued.

I loved A Lovely Way to Burn. Great, original story. A strong cast of characters. Loved the title as well. Bring on the second novel in the Plague Times trilogy.



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