Newport Beach Independent - October 2, 2015

Under Cover

Edie Crabtree 2015-10-03 03:41:26

New Mystery- Thriller Set in OC I can still remember the first time that a book I was reading referenced an area I was familiar with. It was at the beginning of my Dean Koontz phase in high school, and as I read the words, “he drove south down Bristol Street, passing South Coast Plaza,” I thought, “Wait, I drive south down Bristol Street and pass South Coast Plaza all the time!” While it had little to do with the plot of the story, it was exhilarating to have a character on the page inhabit the same spaces I did in my daily life. Being able to imagine myself in his surroundings made the fictional story all the more real to me. If you, like I did, experience a slight thrill when your hometown gets a bit of a shout out from the pages of a book, then you won’t want to miss the new thriller, “The Burning Man,” by local author, Solange Ritchie. With action taking us from Hoag Hospital in Newport, to the cliffs of Laguna Beach, to Irvine, and the Dana Point Harbor, readers are sure to have many “Hey, I’ve been there!” moments. Because the story follows an FBI forensic pathologist as she is hot on the trail of a deranged serial killer, the relatable moments will hopefully end with the scenery. A practicing attorney, Ritchie knows what it is like to be a professional woman working in a male dominated field. As such, she wanted to provide readers of the crime/mystery/ thriller genre with a strong female lead – someone who could be as comfortable solving crimes with the boys as she was tenderly tucking her child in at night. She wanted a woman to appear in a thriller in a position of power, rather than as the usual victim. With protagonist Cat Powers, she has definitely filled the bill. In “The Burning Man,” Agent Powers is called in by the Irvine Police Department to lead the search for a killer the media has dubbed the Burning Man, due to his propensity for using high potency acid to slowly burn the bodies of those whose lives he takes. It is clear from his M.O., that the killer enjoys inflicting pain on his victims, drawing out their deaths to enjoy their suffering, and with a body count steadily growing, time is of the essence. As Cat delves deeper into the case, analyzing the psyche of the killer in order to determine what makes him tick, and hopefully, enabling her to predict his next move, it becomes clear that the killer is, in fact, sending messages to her through the bodies of the girls he has killed. Sensing that the case is becoming ever more personal, and as the Burning Man sets his sights on her own loved ones, Cat must use all her wits to catch the killer before she becomes another whose life is devastated in the wake of his carnage. An impressive debut effort, it is clear that we have not seen the last of either Ritchie, or Agent Cat Powers. In fact, Ritchie will herself be visiting the scene of the crime, so to speak, as she drops into Newport this month to discuss the new book. Appearing at Barnes and Noble, Fashion Island on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 1 p. m., Ritchie will discuss her novel, what led her to write the characters the way she did, and, of course, sign copies of the book. If this first endeavor is any indication, she will be a local name you will want to get to know better. For more information about Ritchie or “The Burning Man,” visit solangeritchie.Com. For more information on the event, visit, or call (949) 718-0109. Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at

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