Everything Burns: Vincent Zandri
Take a match and light it. Stare at the flame as it rises to the top of the match. The yellow, red and orange engulf the outer edge of the match as the flame ignites and rises. Some people mesmerized by the site of the flame. Some even feel an hypnotic pull. Others might think that this flame is an agent that arouses some type of sexual desire: an aphrodisiac. Chocolate, bananas even honey can stir up your desire as well as some powerful drugs. Look at the flame then light some more matches until the heat, the smoke and the colors envelope you until all you see and feel is the fire.
What happens when someone loses a parent to an accident at a young age due to carelessness? What happens when that young child becomes so fixated on the death that he cannot deal with the realities of life and becomes engulfed in something that will affect his life as an adult? Fire has always fascinated Reece Johnston and even as an adult still feeling the effects of what happened as a child fire, flames and the smell of ash and smoke center him and often helps to keep him calm. With matches in his pocket and striking the top, he often sets out to set something on fire and watch it burn. As the paper or object combusts, feels the heat beneath his fingers, and realizes within his mind: Everything Burns: Vincent Zandri heats up the pages of this novel with blazing fire.
Reece is the author of the best selling novel The Damned which plays an integral part in this plot as the main character in the book loves fire, sets people on fire and one line carries through this novel as a killer sets out to make Reece think he’s going crazy, set him on a personal fire within him and hopefully create a mental and physical downfall. But, when Lisa, his ex-wife, and his daughter Anna, leave to stay with her mother as she is about to undergo minor surgery, Reece cannot help but search her house hoping to learn more about David, the man that took his place until she took him back. The inferno within him causes him to search, hunt and what he finds sets him on another course to take matches along and set something ablaze.
There are three voices that come through loud and clear within this novel: Reece, David and the voice of reason, Reece’s father whose specter appears when things heat up and his mind turns to fire and he does not think things out. Jealousies rule as both David and Reece fight for the attention of one woman: Lisa and although it appears friendly at first, what happens which send burns and tingling throughout your body. Reece also has an affinity for visiting cemeteries and crematoriums.
David Bourenhem is a freelance writer and at the center of what he hopes is Lisa’s world. Friendships are there but are they healthy ones? Notes left, hope in hand and another player comes to the forefront: Rachel: Reece’s ex-girlfriend. David and Rachel were involved and notes left out and read cause more than another flame. Personal photos of Lisa light up another path of destruction as David claims they belong to him and once again we hear his father’s voice telling him to stay calm, not become Drew the character in his novel and have to reenter the mental hospital again.
“The Bestseller is a Heretic and Like all Heretics He Will Burn For His Sins,” seems to be a quote from his novel The Damned and comes up during this novel as a reminder of what someone thinks is his deceptions, lies and betrayals. But, how far will someone go to destroy Reece you just won’t believe as it starts by having Lisa’s house ransacked and the police coming and finding evidence that leads back to him. But, Reece is out of control and goes to David’s house accusing him of breaking and entering and the scene is quite telling, compelling making readers wonder just who is out of control and who is in control and has the situation in hand his way. But, that’s just the beginning as he finds a charred body on the lawn and does not report it to the police. When Lisa’s friend Olga is burned to a marshmallow crisp or blackened piece of bread, what Reece does is totally outrageous leading the police to his front door again and a sick killer enjoying his folly.
Finding himself at Lisa’s parent’s house he confronts her, wants to know more about her relationship with David and then several pieces start to fit together, things get out of control and fire is about to burn that might cost more lives.
The one constant in the story is Frankie the dog that seems to understand Reece and appears to be almost human. Talking out situations with the dog, allowing readers to understand that he is about to snap at any point makes you wonder just what will happen next. But, one man can help center him if he allows him to. Blood is a strong character and is someone that controls the drug traffic and what types of drugs are sold in his territory and no one messes with him. So, why didn’t he call him when he found the body and why didn’t he allow him to stay with him at Lisa’s house?
Detective Miller is a great character that looks into the murder of Olga, brings Reece in more than once and judging by the interrogation seems to feel he might be guilty but cannot entirely prove it. David showing up at Lisa’s house with flowers after they break up. Emails wanting to communicate with her, phone calls, personal items on her bed and then Reece finds his way to David’s apartment, tries to scare him but in reality who is in control?
The Damned: Like his character Brennen who burns college students in bathtubs! Who is behind what is happening and why is this person after Reece? Who would dump a body of a young woman in Lisa’s backyard? Who is trying to do more than Gaslight Reece? Why didn’t he call Miller when it happened? How does Blood help him deal with the situation? Lives hang in the balance when a video call to Reece says it all. Why is this person after him? What does he expect him to do and why? Who is being held captive and just how deranged is this person? Betrayals, lies and deceptions come out and an untold truth just might ruin more than one life. Writer’s block, shock therapy, four novels, destroying a career and a life, jealousies and a fire that is so powerful it will burn down everything in sight. An ending scorched with heat and an author that takes us inside the minds of two men who are different yet the same. Whose career goes up in flames? Whose life is about to end? What does Reece do when the final truths are told and he’s forced to face something in his past? What happens when EVERYTHING BURNS! Who will be there to put out the final flame? Once again author Vincent Zandri pens a novel realistic, so powerful that the reader cannot put it down until the last match is lit.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
When Reece Johnston was a boy, a fire destroyed his home, killing his mother and brothers while leaving him scarred for life. It also kindled something dark inside him: an irresistible attraction to flames in all their terrifying, tantalizing power. But after two failed arson attempts—and two trips to the mental ward—he was finally able to put down the matches and pick up the pieces.
With a career as a bestselling crime writer going strong, Reece is working to fix his broken marriage to Lisa and be there for their preteen daughterAnna. He’s not just dealing with his own demons; there’s a world of deadly hurt bearing down on him in the form of the jealous rival he’s bested in literature and love, who’s determined to see Reece crash…and burn. But a guy like Reece knows how to take the heat.And thanks to his lifelong friendship with fire, he also knows how to bring it.
Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He is a resident of both New York and Florence, Italy.
Just Reviews interview:
- Why did you decide to focus on arson in this novel? What research into arson and creating fires did you do before writing this book?
I was watching Vertigo and I became fascinated with a man who obsessed over heights. I’d also read that it wasn’t all that uncommon for someone who felt the need to take revenge on a lost love to set the home they once shared together on fire. Arson out of passion. My research was limited to the internet and case studies.
- Why does someone become attracted to fire? Describe Reese. How did you create him?
Reese isn’t attracted to fire so much as he’s obsessed with it. It killed almost his entire family, and since that day, he can’t get it out of his life. Sometimes it controls him and on occasion, he controls it. Like the novel states, he’s “haunted by fire.” That’s the fictional Reece. There are other things about him…the writing, the getting back together with his ex, the suspicion that she could be interacting with her ex on the sly…that are lifted from my own life.
- What changes him and allows him to realize that his fascination with fire and flames was the wrong road to take?
Anyone who burns things as a means of calming oneself or as a means of satisfying some odd inner desire realizes how wrong it is. After he tries to burn his own home down, and the resulting stay at a psych ward, Reece attempts to make a separate peace with fire. But that doesn’t mean the desire to be a fire starter disappears entirely.
- What does Reece do? What types of books does he write?
Reece writes crime thrillers just like another not so anonymous author I know.
- How would you describe his personal life? What is his relationship with his preteen daughter, Anna?
Reece’s personal life is a tenuous one in that after years of absence he is suddenly thrust back into the fold. Which is why Anna calls him by his first name, but also lovingly refers to him as Reecey Pieces. As the novel begins, Reece is still trying to prove his worth and his stability to both his ex-wife and his daughter. And now that the ex-boyfriend is making trouble, it’s not exactly easy. In fact, the situation gets downright deadly.
- Who is coming after him and why? Who is the jealous rival?
The fictional jealous rival is David, a writer who has never really made it. He makes a living writing for small local newspapers and maybe the occasional PR job, but fame and wealth have eluded him as a fiction author. But that’s not entirely his fault as those who read the entire novel will discover. Reece always harbored the suspicion that one, his wife, Lisa, dated David just to make Reece jealous, and that two, David dated his ex-wife thinking the muse might rub off on him…quite literally. NOTE: this is a novel that must be read through the very last sentence in order for the full truth to be revealed.
- How does Reece use fire and flames to deal with this rival and foe?
You have to read the book.
- Why does Reece seem to fall back to his old ways? Why does he need to take meds? How does his world crumble again?
Again, you need to read the book. But suffice to say that when he discovers it’s possible Lisa is still seeing David behind his back, he turns to the one violent comfort he knows best. Lighting fires.
- How did you create a world for this character that he seems fine one minute and over the edge the next?
Personal experience. There was a time in my life, not that long ago when my ex and myself were newly separated, when I wasn’t all that stable. I wasn’t lighting fires but I wasn’t exactly living a healthy lifestyle. At the same time however, I was productive as hell, writing one book after the other. I’m still caught up in the creative cycle but I’m not nearly as self-destructive.
- When creating this novel it is a departure from your Moonlight Series: Why did you decide to take on another venue for your mysteries?
Thomas & Mercer, my big publisher, want me to write in-depth psychological thriller standalones. That’s initially where the departure came from. But this was a novel that had to be written regardless of who or what wanted to publish it. I don’t want to sound lofty because I hate that highbrow college professor, phony writing school crap. But writing “Burns” was a cathartic experience. The need to write a story very much based on my ex-wife and myself came from a source so deep inside that I can’t really explain it other than to say that it helped me make sense out of situation that for years seemed desperate. In the end, Everything Burns is my attempt at creating art that entertains, whereas the Moonlights are my attempt at creating entertainment that can also stand on its own as an art form. Noir, to be precise.
- When creating the plot for this novel how did you decide on the primary storyline?
The storyline wrote itself, at least for the first part of the book, because so much of it is true. The rest of it developed organically according to the wants, needs, obsessions of a pyromaniac.
- When can readers expect your next Moonlight novel and what is the title?
I haven’t started it yet, but I know the plot. It will revolve around the Chinese mob which is very prevalent in the Albany area. Let’s hope I don’t get myself killed in the process.
- Are you going to bring back the Elvis impersonator?
If that’s what you want! For certain, look for reappearances from Everything Burns’ Blood and Chief Homicide Detective Nick Miller in Orchard Grove, a hard-boiled standalone coming soon.
- What about Lola? Are were going to finally meet her and is Moonlight ever going to learn the truth about what happened to her?
Well you can meet Lola in the flesh in Moonlight Falls, the first in the PI series. But she’ll be back in a big way for certain.
- What other types of novels do you have planned and have you ever written anything but mysteries?
My newest for Thomas & Mercer is called Aziz. It’s a psychological thriller in the same vein as The Remains and Everything Burns. One day I’m going to write the Great American Novel that will defy all genres. A lofty expectation to be sure. But I think with 16 novels now in print, I know a little bit about the craft.
- Where can everyone learn more about you and your work?
Please go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM and sign up for my “For Your Eyes Only” monthly newsletter.