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Review: Twists careen throughout Kathleen Kent’s `The Burn’

February 11, 2020 GMT
This cover image released by Little, Brown shows "The Burn" by Kathleen Kent. (Little, Brown via AP)
This cover image released by Little, Brown shows "The Burn" by Kathleen Kent. (Little, Brown via AP)

“The Burn,” Mullholland, by Kathleen Kent

A labyrinth of a police procedural punctuated by non-stop action fuels Kathleen Kent’s second gripping novel about Dallas narcotics Detective Betty Rhyzyk.

In addition to a detailed look at police work, “The Burn” is a solid exploration of how a cop who keeps her emotions in check recovers from a near-death experience. Betty desperately needs the support of her patient, devoted girlfriend, Jackie, and that of her police partner, Seth Dutton, but her default is to push away those she most needs.

The novel opens three months after Betty is back on the job after recovering from being tortured by a family of meth dealers in this sequel to Kent’s Edgar-nominated “The Dime.” Betty throws herself into work, desperately wanting to finding Alfonso Ruiz Zena, known as “the Knife,” head of the security force for Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman. But her sexist boss has another plan for the detective, mandating Betty to desk duty and ordering her to see a therapist.


But Betty doesn’t easily follow the rules and begins to work her own confidential informants. The evidence that piles up indicates that a cop may be responsible for the recent murders of several drug dealers. Betty wonders whom she can trust in her squad, including Seth, in whom she once had complete faith.

Briskly paced, “The Burn” barely allows the reader to take a breath as believable twists careen throughout. Caustic and prickly, Betty has a propensity for confrontation and is fearless when cornered. She may not make a good friend — or life partner, just ask Jackie — but her bravery makes her the kind of cop you want on your side.

As “The Burn” shows, Kent is just beginning to explore Betty’s many layers.