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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,815 ratings  ·  535 reviews
An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Goodreads Best Book of the Month

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decadelong career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now s
Paperback, 340 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Lake Union
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Ma The book takes place in the town of Nelson, but state or province is not specified. You'd have to ask the author, I guess.…moreThe book takes place in the town of Nelson, but state or province is not specified. You'd have to ask the author, I guess.(less)
Ma Conallan's answer is for a different book. This book is about 2 female friends, one of whom is a firefighter with a dying marriage.…moreConallan's answer is for a different book. This book is about 2 female friends, one of whom is a firefighter with a dying marriage.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,815 ratings  ·  535 reviews

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Catherine McKenzie
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
My new title ... coming October 20th! Hope you like it.
Elyse  Walters
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I * inhaled* "SMOKE", by Catherine McKenzie. She seems quite popular.
There are 2,699 reviews for her book called "Hidden", on Amazon with almost a 4 star average rating!
So, I was curious to find out what all the 'smoke' was about with Catherine McKenzie's books.
There is a strong positive about her writing... ( also a 'minor' negative).
The minor negative: ( funny coming from me), a person who claims time and time again
to be a reader....'not' a writer. I, myself, pretty much write like shit...
Cathrine ☯️
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: group-challenge
A Goodreads Best Book of October, 2015
One of the Top 100 books of 2015 (Amazon)

Hmm, really?
I wasn’t expecting much, just some enjoyable light reading, which for the most part was not the case. I suppose this could be due to my age. As chick-lit goes I would think this would be more appreciated by a 20’s—30’s female audience. I disliked both the main characters and was not interested in the subject matter/drama focusing on petty, superficial people as well as the woes of marriages/teens in cri
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
ARC requested through Netgalley, and kindly provided by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for a honest review.

I am a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie and was so excited when the publisher gifted me this book on Netgalley.

“Smoke. Everything about it had always meant being away to her, so now that she was safe at home, it was a smell that didn't track.”

This was the opening sentence to Catherine McKenzie’s latest book, Smoke, and it completely hooked me. I wholeheartedly loved this story and the
Smoke is a standalone, women's fiction novel written by Catherine McKenzie. It follows the individual struggles of two women at a time when a wildfire is threatening their small town. For Elizabeth, it's her marriage. For Mindy, it's her family and community. But the approaching fire is not just thrown in for a bit of suspense. It sets the tone, develops the characters, and draws parallels like nobody's business. Passion, teamwork, support, respect, hard work, dedication, integrity, sacrific
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thrilled to say I had an advance look at Smoke before publication. It works as both story and brilliant metaphor: A wildfire threatening to consume homes both reveals and represents the troubled relationships that threaten her characters' families. Heat can have the same blistering result whether caused by passion or friction. Its associated smoke pervades the entire community and obscures truth. Another page-turner from Catherine McKenzie that will have you holding your breath and hoping these ...more
May 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
With an epilogue that changed absolutely everything, Hidden is a book that I still haven’t let go of, even a year later. It was reminding myself of that unforgettable ending that got me through Smoke. I had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that even though the first 100 pages of this book were agonizingly slow that maybe it would all come together in the end and blow me away. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. I considered setting it aside a few times and now I'm wishing I would ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Smoke was a solid 4 stars for me. An enjoyable, well-written book that centers around Elizabeth and her life. Elizabeth, an arson investigator, doesn’t have it easy- she’s dealing with a difficult marriage, a wildfire threatening to destroy her home, and an estranged relationship with her friend Mindy. It doesn’t make her life any easier that she’s now been tasked with finding out exactly how the fire started-the one that threatening to destroy her home. No spoilers here but highly recommended t ...more
Mary Kubica
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely thrilled to get my hands on an advanced copy of Catherine McKenzie's SMOKE, a truly unique mystery with overlapping storylines whose characters I found myself deeply invested in. Catherine's writing is free-flowing and easy to read, while the characters and their stories will be hard to forget. I'm eager to read Catherine's five previous novels. A must read from Catherine McKenzie! ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
Elizabeth is an arson investigator who was once a forest firefighter and she is investigating the fire that has started very near her home and her town. Elizabeth is also in the very beginning of agreeing with her husband that they will get divorced as they are being required to leave their house and stay with her in-laws until the fire gets under control.

Mindy is married to Peter and she is Elizabeth's ex-friend for reasons we do not initially know. They have two teenage children Angus & Carri
3.5 stars. Not as gripping as Fractured, but - after a slow start - quite enjoyable. Good audiobook narration. ...more
Let me begin by saying that I'm a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie's work.

I enjoy not only the stories, but the characters and the journey each character goes through. I like that they seem like authentic individuals - full of feelings, angst, flaws and the desire to be good. So I'm a fan.

This is the first time that I had a more difficult time with the story and the characters.

I think for the story I got caught up in details that I shouldn't have - but that still affected my enjoyment of the boo
Robin Black
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one gulp - SMOKE inhalation!
This is the "blurb" I wrote and I would underline it if I could! “Catherine McKenzie’s Smoke is a marvel, a mystery that portrays relationships with subtlety, small-town life with precision, and reveals the world of the fire obsessed—for evil and for good. Smoke smolders with tension, sizzles with intelligence, and you won’t put it down until the air has been cleared and the last page turned.”
Freda Mans-Labianca
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Solid storytelling.
You can probably gather by the cover and title that this book is about forest fires. If not, you know now.
Fires, natural fires, are a very real and very scary thing. There are even fires raging out west as I read this book. I can't imagine how scary it must actually be to be in that situation, but this story puts you there in the thick of it. It feels real. You can almost smell the smoke as you turn the pages.
That's good storytelling, and honestly, I expected nothing less from
In the mountains of Colorado in one of those small rich towns you visit but never live in, two friends are fighting individual battles. And at the heart of both of their troubles is a forest fire that creeps ever closer to their homes and families.
The author evokes vivid imagery in this story, enough so that I viewed the fire as a separate and intriguing character. Friendship, family, marriage and all the messiness that goes with it plays out as the fire encroaches on the town. I liked the en
Susan (The Book Bag)
I always love Catherine's stories because she writes about human relationships. She shows us the good as well as the bad. Smoke starts off pretty intense, with a fire that could quickly become out of control. We also see Elizabeth's relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband starting to spiral out of control as well.

'We've had this kind of standoff about a lot of things lately, communicating through the things not done, the words not said, our inaction as loud and grating as un unfixed faucet'
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
Smoke was an easy, entertaining story to read. As you know from the title and blub it’s about the time before and during a major wild fire raging in Cooper Basin. The characters are well defined. The major players are Elizabeth/Beth who has worked with fire is going through a difficult time with her husband, Ben. There are overlapping story lines while the fire rages on. There is Mindy, who is not really happy with her life, after losing her job she spends all of her time worrying about their tw ...more
Terri Wino
Apr 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: year-2015
I'm sad to say I did not enjoy this book quite as much as I thought I would. I absolutely loved Forgotten, Arranged, and Spin. While not as enthusiastic about Hidden, I still thought it was a good book.
Don't get me wrong, Smoke was also a good book, but it just didn't resonate with me. I think my biggest issue was I just didn't like Elizabeth. The parts of the book told through her first-person perspective just made her come across as selfish and careless to me. So in not liking her, I didn't f
Kate Hilton
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Catherine McKenzie's writing for a number of years, but Smoke is (in my humble opinion) her strongest book yet. It is both a complex portrait of a marriage in crisis, and a taut, well-plotted mystery. McKenzie's characters are well-intentioned but flawed, blinded (as we all are) by the stories they've told themselves about their relationships with partners, friends and children - and how, in particular, they've assigned blame for failures in those relationships. Written from t ...more
Kathleen Crowell
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
** thank you Netgalley for the ARC!

Very well-written. Interesting storyline. Spin is still my fave though!
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Smoke had an interesting premise and felt like a Jodi Picoult novel at times. There was a lot of strong character development and dialogue and I felt sympathetic toward both Elizabeth and Mindy.

If you're interested in the dynamics of a large fire, this is definitely the book for you. If you're not, those parts might feel slow to you, like they did for me, but it's still worth reading for the other 90%. The ending felt a bit anti-climactic after all that had happened, but it was nice to get some
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, ebook
Smoke is set in the town of Nelson which is nestled in the northern part of the Rockies.
Ben and Elizabeth have decided to divorce after 16 years together (10 of them married). On the night of this decision a fire is started on the edge of town. The ignition point is isolated to a fire pit on someone's property. Was it the home owner or a group of teenagers who have been harassing him? Soon accusations are flying around the town.
This was an enjoyable novel with many layers and one I enjoyed with
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good read. I did find myself heavily wrapped up in the characterizations portrayed in this book. Not that that is a bad thing. There's a lot of backstory involvement here in order to showcase each person and their relevancy to the storyline. That, obviously, was the intention of this author. There's a lot of back and forth between the two main characters, Elizabeth and Mindy, and how their personal lives eventually intertwined.

There are plenty of secrets abrew with the intentional and
Tasha Alexander
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Catherine McKenzie has a gift for writing about the most complicated emotional situations and creating three-dimensional characters (Elizabeth's development is especially impressive). Her style is exquisite, but it doesn't come at the expense of a page-turning narrative. It's rare to rind a book with such a compelling plot and deep themes, but McKenzie has given us just that. A great, great read. ...more
Carol Brill
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great read, here's my review for New York Journal of Books ...more
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Catherine McKenzie returns following Hidden with SMOKE — a town in the Rockies, raged by fire and destruction; and the burning secrets and lies, of its characters’ personal lives igniting; losing control at the same time.

A fast-spreading ground fire has ignited at the edge of the Cooper Basin in Nelson County. Housing structures and lives are threatened. Temporary shelters, school suspension
Christine Nolfi
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love adventure stories that keep me guessing, and “Smoke” succeeds beautifully. Vivid details and a solid cast of characters make this an engaging read. Highly recommended.
4.5 stars.
Smoke by Catherine McKenzie was a riveting read, that contained mystery, family and friendship drama and the terrifying experience of an out of control fire surrounding a town.

When we meet Elizabeth she is at odds with her husband Ben. They are about to begin pursuing a divorce, although what has caused the rift is not revealed at the beginning. It takes time to gather up all the facts and miscommunications and break down in trust. One of the heartbreaks that they have had is up until
Toni Osborne
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Where there is smoke there is fire and you will definitely smell it before it engulfs you…isn’t an unnerving and dangerous feeling to realize you may be in the wrath of nature and possibly you will lose everything….including your life. This somber topic is a portrait of people in an extreme situation. This mystery also focuses on a marriage in crisis and the people of a small community threaten by wildfire.

We find in “Smoke” a domestic drama that flows with ease and captivates us with vivid imag
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
SMOKE is my favorite Catherine McKenzie book yet. I loved the main characters, especially Beth, who is trying to sort out the disappointments and desires that haunt so many at her age and stage in life. It's a compelling read with wonderfully imperfect, deeply human characters, a beautifully drawn setting in a western town that is so real it feels like another character in the novel, and a plot that keeps you turning pages late into the night. SMOKE vividly conveys the terror and attraction of p ...more
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52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2016.14: SMOKE 9 28 Jul 15, 2016 06:24AM  
52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2015.42: SMOKE 10 56 Dec 27, 2015 06:11AM  

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Catherine McKenzie was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. A graduate of McGill in History and Law, Catherine practiced law in Montreal for twenty years before retiring to write full time. An avid runner and skier, she's the author of numerous bestsellers including HIDDEN, FRACTURED, THE GOOD LIAR and I'LL NEVER TELL. Her works have been translated into multiple languages.


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