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Devil's Kitchen


Devil's Kitchen

For DEVIL’S KITCHEN, Candice Fox spent time interviewing firefighting crews in both New York and Sydney, Australia, as well as those who were present during 9/11. The resulting novel shows an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of fire departments, and her coverage of the Big Apple is so spot on that it’s easy to forget she lives Down Under.

The book deals with a situation involving a deep-cover agent who is assigned to a fire department suspected of a long-running crime spree that has caused the murder of a police officer. Andy Nearland is the newest member of Engine 99 and is so deep inside such a volatile and dangerous situation that it will call to mind films like Donnie Brasco and Goodfellas. Each provided heavy thrills based on the lead characters risking their lives for people who will kill them without thinking twice should they be outed.

"DEVIL’S KITCHEN delivers on this intriguing premise and provides unique characters who keep you guessing about their motivations right up until the fiery finale."

This is why the first scene in DEVIL’S KITCHEN is so effective. It shows Andy tied up with tape over her mouth being grilled by other members of her squad as she begs for her life. Three months earlier at a bar, Andy singles out Ben Haig from the department. When she goes back to his place, she reveals that she is there on a deep-cover operation and needs his help. Yes, he will definitely face some jail time for his participation in their criminal endeavors, but the reason he is her “in” is that he desperately has been searching for his girlfriend, Luna, and her young son, Gabriel, who disappeared months earlier. Ben feels that members of his own squad may be responsible, and he trusts Andy when she tells him that she is there not only to bring everyone to justice for their crimes but to find Luna and Gabriel.

Andy has a fake employment jacket indicating that she is a transfer from a bad situation in San Diego. Matt, the leader of Engine 99, reluctantly lets her in, but only if she doesn’t get romantically involved with Ben. The team buys that he had a one-night stand with her after their meeting at the bar. The chapters are effectively told from the perspectives of both Andy and Ben.

Andy has a handler on this assignment, but she pretty much operates as a lone wolf and is more of an independent contractor than a member of the CIA or another agency. There are plenty of intensely written scenes. One is of a party that Matt is throwing at his house on Long Island, where the team (minus Andy, who is spending time with Matt’s wife) plan their final and biggest heist yet. Ben is a pivotal character because of how torn he is and his uncertainty over who to trust. Even so, he plays along knowing that Andy will stop the heist and hopefully locate Luna and Gabriel.

Matt is a real psycho of a character with a huge chip on his shoulder about his role on 9/11. Engo, a veteran of the squad, is a misogynistic type claiming to have a mastery of karate, and young apprentice Jake has both substance abuse and gambling issues that make him eager for the next big score. Knowing that Andy and Ben will be under fire in three months makes for a very unsettling read as you quietly await the moment when it all goes very wrong.

DEVIL’S KITCHEN delivers on this intriguing premise and provides unique characters who keep you guessing about their motivations right up until the fiery finale.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 29, 2024

Devil's Kitchen
by Candice Fox

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250345758
  • ISBN-13: 9781250345752