Count To Ten by Karen Rose

(Fiction: Thrillers: Crime)

I had not heard of Karen Rose or read any of her books before Count To Ten, but was in the online bookstore base one day idly browsing, and couldn’t make up my mind on a choice of reading matter for the weekend – and I wanted something I could get my teeth into. So looking through the thriller paperbacks, I saw a selection of books by Karen Rose that seemed to dwarf their neighbors on the shelf, so I picked on up and took a look, and it happened to be Count To Ten! With almost 700 pages, I figured I was getting my money’s worth if you calculated by word count at least! So avoid if you don’t like substantial reading matter!

So looking through the thriller paperbacks, I saw a selection of books by Karen Rose that seemed to dwarf their neighbors on the shelf, so I picked on up and took a look, and it happened to be Count To Ten! With almost 700 pages, I figured I was getting my money’s worth if you calculated by word count at least! So avoid if you don’t like substantial reading matter!

It turns out I had a bit of reader’ serendipity going on, as Count To Ten is, in fact, Karen Rose’s UK debut – although she has been popular in the US for some time now, and I can see why. In Count To Ten, a murder-arsonist is stalking Chicago, with a series of murders and fires that at first don’t seem to make sense – maybe the fires are to cover up crimes?

Then it turns out that the victims are actually being burned alive, to state some apparently crazy bloodlust. As the story unfolds, however, motive becomes apparent through a web of past history. In charge of the investigation is Reed Solliday, of the Chicago Fire Department (it is interesting to have the main investigator a fire chief rather than a cop, although Solliday does team up with Mia Mitchell of the Chicago Police Department – and could there be a romantic interest there too?).

In all this was a great read, with plenty of backstory and twists and turns with the characters, including a glimpse into Solliday’s tortured personal life and its eventual resolution. If I had one complaint it would be that the villain is portrayed in quite a villainous way, when in fact, he turns out to be a pretty damaged individual – then again, perhaps Rose is making the point, as argued through Solliday, that people make choices – and being damaged doesn’t give you the right to choose to damage or kill others!

Enjoyed this book, and kept me going through a long weekend, so I look forward to more Karen Rose books soon!