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“Nature kills as mean as man”
Lake Of Fire
by Mark Stevens

Tea, flowers and an open book on a table in the garden - Used to feature my book reviews

LAKE OF FIRE‘ (Allison Coil Mystery #4)

Cover Image Of The Book 'Lake Of Fire' By Author Mark StevensA giant wildfire is roaring through Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness.

The massive blaze is wiping out Allison Coil’s precious hunting grounds, and the flames have set their sights on the beautiful ranch owned by her boyfriend’s family.

Allison and longtime friend Trudy are shocked to learn that a body has been found in the fire ravaged forest—a friend who was a reclusive environmentalist with an unorthodox idea for the battle against global warming.

Along with reporter Duncan Bloom, Allison burrows into an underground group of anti-government extremists.

As they strike close to home and hurt those closest to her, Allison vows hell might not be punishment enough for this cabal of sinister fanatics.


Image Of Contemporary Author Mark StevensMark is the son of two librarians and was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

He graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in the suburbs of Boston and later from Principia College in Illinois.

He has worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver;  as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post.  

After his career in journalism, Mark worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business.

He lives in Denver with his wife and has two grown daughters.

He is a member of :-

  • Mystery Writers of America
  • Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (I am currently President)
  • Colorado Authors League
  • Pike’s Peak Writers
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Western Writers of America

Catch up with the latest news at Mark’s website

Follow Mark on Twitter

Connect with Mark’s page at Facebook

Cover Image Of The Book 'Lake Of Fire' By Author Mark Stevens

First Line

“Nature kills as mean as man.”

Cover Image Of The Book 'Lake Of Fire' By Author Mark Stevens

Memorable Lines

“Devo could live in a permanent dawn. The crack of light—the promise.”

“One positive about these visits was the welcome reminder that she had hooked the one offspring in the brood, Colin, who believed there were more questions than answers.”

Cover Image Of The Book 'Lake Of Fire' By Author Mark Stevens


Nature kills as mean as man

In some ways I wish I had gone back in time and read the series in sequence, rather than coming late to the party with book #4. Whilst it didn’t really take me long to unravel the cast of characters and establish their relationships with one another, there was obviously unfinished business going on in the background, which had been carried over from previous books and it would have been good to have been able to tie up all the loose ends. The same might be said for the ending of Lake Of Fire, which once again seemed to be a little vague in conclusions about several story threads, which were obviously lining themselves up to be continued  or concluded in book #5.

Whilst even in series reading, a definitive story conclusion is purely a matter of personal preference, I can honestly say, that on this occasion this in no way detracted from the quality of the storyline, the descriptive narrative and storytelling, or the excellent character casting. Lake Of Fire  works just fine as a stand alone story.

The action started right from the very first line and never really stopped until the final sentence and there were so many twists, turns and red herrings along the way, that the reading turned into something of a roller-coaster of emotions, with my loyalties being pulled this way and that.

Not coming from a hunting background, or having any allegiance to non-essential hunting in any way, shape or form, I was pleased that Allison Coil’s ‘proper’ job as a hunting guide, when she wasn’t called into service as an amateur detective, was kept pretty much in the background of the story, although her obvious tracking skills were very much in the forefront of the final chase, when I could only admire her expertise and staying power.

Mark’s writing is obviously well researched, intense and observational, with landscapes coming to life so well, that the sights, smells and sounds are almost tangible, so much so, that I could almost imagine myself there amongst the action – the silent and invisible witness to unfolding events.

Despite its beautifully crafted descriptive tones, the dialogue and narrative is surprisingly crisp and punchy, with few wasted words and the action moves along and flows at constant speed, never once feeling rushed or too hurried, despite the heightened tension and suspense as the story progresses and the disturbing direction it takes….

This isn’t just any murder. What nobody realises at the beginning of the enquiry is that they are dealing with a very well organised group of secessionists. (Just one small spoiler – but not enough to ruin the party!)

Mark’s character building and development is likewise, faultless and believable, evoking strong emotions about those I loved and those I loved to hate. To a person, his characters are all flawed and complex, carrying emotional baggage which threatens to change the direction and dynamics of the action at a moments notice. They are however, fiercely loyal and have built strong and binding friendships, which draw them to stick together, no matter how bad things get. And how could I not love a heroine who always keeps tequila handy?

Without giving away any more spoilers, I can only reveal that Allison’s loyalty is tested to the full, as one by one her friends and potential family members, all come under suspicion for a whole raft of crimes, including murder. She must sort the good from bad, guilty from innocent, those she will condemn and those she will pardon. Is her partner Colin, really the man Allison thought he was and if not, does he have the mettle to shake off the shackles of his past and make a new beginning with her?

Image Of Contemporary Author Mark Stevens

The complimentary PDF copy of this book, came courtesy of the lovely Samantha, over at ‘Roger Charlie’. Sami has introduced me to some great new books and authors over the months, so I aways look forward to her emails.

I have written this review for my own records and enjoyment. I have not been requested so to do by any author, publisher or social media site and I have received no offers of payment to do so.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5.

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • I’ve just gone back and looked at all your earlier posts about this book and can see that I’ve been wavering about it all along. Bottom line, I think I would probably enjoy it, but I’m not willing to start the series from the beginning at this point in time. There are too many other series in which I’m still trying to catch up or already have the first in my TBR pile.

    I’m glad this one still worked for you and maybe (ha!) you’ll be able to go back and read the earlier installments at some point.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Funnily enough, I was so convinced that you had already read and reviewed this book, I spent some time last night trawling through your ‘Books Read’ section, year by year and even when I couldn’t find it, was still certain that you were going to stop by today and say that you too had enjoyed and reviewed ‘Lake Of Fire’.

      Now I know that this whole blogging process is really getting to me!

      Much as I enjoyed ‘Lake Of Fire’, I doubt that I shall be revisiting the three earlier books in this series, although I might be tempted by book #5 if there is a more cohesive outcome to the storyline.

      I do enjoy reading books set in as many different States in the US as possible, as I really only know the basics from my school book geography days. The diversity of both the physical and social history from around the country, is truly fascinating!

      Sorry my review couldn’t tip the balance and tempt you into the series, but thanks for taking the time to stop by today and I hope that you have a good weekend 🙂

      • I’d never even considered reading books from each of the US states until your comment (and Cath’s, below). I’ve not kept track, but would be willing to wager I’ve read one set in most, if not all.

        • It might be an interesting experiment to check through the books you have recorded reading, just to see how many States you have covered from the comfort of your armchair. Especially after your most recent jigsaw puzzle post, featuring all the State signs!

          I should try the same experiment with some of my own County reads, but I know it could easily become an obsession and yet another all consuming challenge 🙂

  • I do love the sound of this because, like you, Yvonne, I enjoy books set in different states in the USA. I checked my personal challenge to read something from every state and see that I have read a book for Colorado (Ill Wind by Nevada Barr) but this is still tempting. Or would be if it wasn’t book 4 in a series. We’ll see. But, as always, an excellent and informative post, Yvonne.

    • Hi Cath,

      I have always like to read books written by authors representing diverse cultures and different countries, however I had never sat and actually analyzed my choices until I read some of your ‘armchair traveller’ posts.

      There are actually quite a few sites out there where you can record your reading journey, but to be honest, I simply don’t have the time to follow through on registering my books, even though I think it would be quite a fun thing to do.

      I like that Nevada Barr has set an entire series of books in the different National Parks of the US, but some of the storylines don’t really excite me and scream ‘buy me!’.

      Thanks for taking the time to check out the post and if you ever find the time to revisit Colorado, then you could do worse than check out the ‘Lake Of Fire’ series to help you enjoy the trip 🙂

  • Lake Of Fire sounds good, and I know what you mean about reading series books in order. I also enjoy well researched, descriptive storytelling. Fantastic review! I am glad you enjoyed this one. lol about the tequila.

    • Hi Naida,

      I have to admit to being terrible at series reading, which is why I generally end up by choosing mostly stand alone novels.

      With many of the series I really crave to follow being already so well established, catching up is almost an impossible dream.

      ‘Lake Of Fire’ did work really well as a stand alone, as people and situations from the previous episodes were mentioned and explained in enough detail for me to get by on. However there were obviously some of the smaller nuances which I had to work out for myself and just hope that I had got them right!

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and for your kind words. I always look forward to having my reviews critiqued by my blogging friends, as I know you can be relied upon to offer sound advice and constructive criticism.

      Have a good week 🙂

Written by Yvonne