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The Burning Air [Hardcover]

Erin Kelly
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 21 Feb 2013 --  
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Book Description

21 Feb 2013

Gripping and chilling, with a killer twist, THE BURNING AIR reaffirms Erin Kelly as one of Britain's foremost psychological thriller writers.

Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late.

The MacBrides have always gone to Far Barn in Devon for Bonfire Night, but this year everything is different. Lydia, the matriarch, is dead; Sophie, the eldest daughter, is desperately trying to repair a crumbling marriage; and Felix, the youngest of the family, has brought a girlfriend with him for the first time.

The girl, Kerry, seems odd in a way nobody can quite put their finger on - but when they leave her looking after Sophie's baby daughter, and return to find both Kerry and the baby gone, they are forced to ask themselves if they have allowed a cuckoo into their nest . . .

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition edition (21 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670026727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026722
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16.3 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,604,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erin Kelly is a freelance journalist and lives in North London with her family. The Poison Tree is her first novel.

Product Description


Kelly's most accomplished book to date . . . a gripping tale of secrets, revenge and obsession, masterfully done. (Guardian)

An author in total command of the tensions within dysfunctional families . . . Gripping all the way. (The Times)

Kelly excels at thrillers set in middle-England idylls, that sidestep the clichéd and the cosy to go for the jugular. [THE BURNING AIR] sees her reach another level. (Independent on Sunday)

Her narrative choreographs a succession of hints, twists and revelations with elegance and precision. The novel is beautifully written and the characters have a dreadful plausibility about them that engulfs you in their untidy lives. Like all the best psychological thrillers, this one leaves the reader feeling mildly traumatised - and hungry for the author's next book. (Spectator)

Expect dark secrets and a killer twist. So thrilling, this book will have you sleeping with the lights on. (Company)

Erin Kelly is a seriously good writer, and this gripping novel is her best yet. I really loved it - couldn't put it down! (Sophie Hannah)

It's not often I read a book where the twist is so surprising, I have to go back and work out how I missed it, but that's what happened here . . . Brilliant and heart-stopping. (Woman)

Her new book is every bit as dark and intriguing as her previous novels (Bella)

Her creepiest and classiest yet (Elle)

Everything you want from a psychological thriller - elegant writing, clever plotting, shocking twists and a looming sense of menace . . . Erin Kelly just gets better and better with every book! (Good Housekeeping)

An atmospheric setting and an absolutely genius twist . . . Nothing is as it seems in this tense domestic drama, as fresh revelations uncover a maze of interconnected secrets. (Marie Claire)

Erin Kelly masterminds her most psychological thriller yet . . . has a twist so shocking you'll need a lie down (Grazia)

You'll be transfixed as you uncover the truth in this unputdownable novel (Easy Living)

A tense family drama that demands to be read in one sitting (Daily Record)

'You won't be able to get anything else done until you've finished it . . . completely compelling: just take the phone off the hook and cancel any plans you might have.' ***** (Heat)

'THE BURNING AIR is a classic of the psychological thriller genre and puts Kelly firmly in the same league as Ruth Rendell writing under her Barbara Vine pseudonym; both women showing a great gift for characterisation and a mastery of understanding human nature's twisted desires . . . I loved it . . . Erin Kelly puts a satisfying contemporary spin on her genre, showing a sympathy for all her characters, even the supposed 'baddies', and a love of a moral dilemma which could happen to any one of us. It is this realism, a hand-grenade thrown into uneventful and supposedly comfortable lives, which makes THE BURNING AIR such an involving read'. (Sunday Express)

A classic dark thriller combining suspense with gorgeous, evocative prose . . . With writing so seductive and multiple voices that are pitch-perfect for the characters she's created, Kelly shows that she is a writer who doesn't need to keep repeating herself to stay in the game. (Kirkus Reviews)

In a strong field, Kelly is among the strongest. Her formidable control of plot twist and character keep you gripped, unsure of the outcome, until the bitter end. (Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls)

THE BURNING AIR is a clever, creepy exploration of the deceit hidden even within the most apparently loving of families and the very fine line between justice and revenge. Erin Kelly is brilliant at showing the relentlessness of obsession and the evil that can be done in the name of love. (Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner)

Written with empathy, psychological insight and a real feel for the menace and conflict at the heart of families, it's a superior example of its genre. (Big Issue)

A masterfully plotted dark tale of how a small injustice can have devastating consequences. I devoured it in one sitting. (Irish Independent)

Compelling: a macabre tale of motherhood and vengeance (Woman's Weekly)

Brilliant (InStyle)

If you were glued to ITV's recent psychological drama THE POISON TREE, get your nose in the author's latest spine-chiller, pronto . . . Family politics mixed with revenge make for a super-spooky read (Look)

Full of can't-bear-to-look intensity, this is a great, taut read (Red)

A skilfully woven web of revelations, showing how past mistakes come back to haunt the future . . . a chilling, atmospheric book that is almost impossible to put down. There is no-let up in the tension as we hurtle towards the shocking conclusion (Press Association)

Erin Kelly has produced another excellent psychological thriller in THE BURNING AIR. Dark, chilling and with nail biting twists, I read deep into the night, unable to put it down . . . A must read for all fans of the psychological thriller. (newbooks magazine)

Extremely clever... The writing is exemplary... If this was a film, it would be an Alfred Hitchcock great. (

Suspenseful and clever, this book, Erin Kelly's third, is her best so far. (Literary Review)

Gripping new thriller about family secrets and revenge. Perfect for getting spooked on dark January evenings in. (Top Sante)

Creepy and claustrophobic (Sunday Mirror)

Very cleverly written and full of unexpected twists as the tension keeps being ratcheted up another notch before the big reveal at the end . . . Deeply enjoyable but deeply unsettling: the perfect mixture for a psychological thriller! (Sun's Fabulous blog)

THE BURNING AIR once again highlights the originality of Erin Kelly's plot lines and her ability to build anticipation that, in my opinion, is rarely matched by other thriller/suspense writers. Her ability of taking something everyday and warping it into something dark and twisted, whilst effortlessly weaving sequences from all parts of the characters' lives is not something everyone can do . . . This book is a definite page turner that once picked up cannot be put down, with an inventive plot and characters that grab you and hold on tight whilst steering you through the subtle complexities. (

If you were a fan of Erin Kelly's first novel, THE POISON TREE, you'll love this. It's definitely her most psychological thriller yet and is the very essence of a page turner - we literally couldn't put it down . . . Obviously, it wouldn't be a thriller without a twist and this one was truly a shocker - it made us turn those pages even quicker so we could see exactly how it would all be resolved. A taut, yet extremely readable novel, this is the perfect companion for a cold winter's night! (

[Kelly] has proved herself - with three books - to be among the most accomplished and pin-sharp of writers working in the crime genre. (Barry Forshaw Independent)

The constant action and suspense will ensure that your heart keeps pounding (Heat) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Compelling psychological suspense from Erin Kelly, author of THE POISON TREE and THE SICK ROSE. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Burning Air - a great read 26 Jan 2014
I've had a run of boring books over the last few weeks so was relieved to read this one which kept me gripped.
A family gathers at a remote house for Bonfire Night: Rowan, the recently widowed father, and his daughters Sophie and Tara, and his son Felix, and their partners and children. In their midst a stranger, Felix's new girlfriend. When she disappears with Sophie's baby, the family are launched into a a terrifying situation with its roots deep in the past.
The book then moves back several years to a new thread about an odd child named Darcy, and his obssessive mother. This sets the scene for what comes to follow, and the book becomes even more gripping from this point, particularly from the time of a shocking revelation about halfway through.
The story is told from the points of view of various characters and this works really well. It is a tense and menacing read, the plot is probably fairly unlikely but then it's fiction so who cares?
I'd read Erin Kelly's first book which I enjoyed but this is much better, a really good read which keeps you desperate to turn the pages, and I look forward to her next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 19 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was the first time I had any of this author's books and bought it because of the reviews. I wasn't disappointed as I found it to be a very good read. Well written and good plot. In fact I stayed up to the wee hours reluctant to put it down. I will look for more books by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read 24 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved both of Erin's previous books and enjoyed this one just as much. She has such strong descriptive skills that I found it hard to keep my heart rate down during the frantic scenes. Her characters can been seen as unlikeable which, to me, creates a stronger narrative, due to them well drawn. A fab book, best read in one afternoon with a pot of tea!
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I am missing something? 10 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The story focuses on the McBride family, a close knit clan who prize education and justice highly, not least because the Mother and Father of the family are a magistrate and a headteacher respectively. We begin the book with the death of the beloved family matriarch, Lydia, and learn she has a secret she took to her grave, a secret that if revealed would have dire consequences. Fast forward a year and we see the family on their first gathering since her death and the son of the family has brought along his beautiful and enigmatic girlfriend, Kerry. The gathering gets off to a rocky start and bad turns to worse when Kerry disappears along with the baby of the oldest McBride daughter.

The plot is silly, there is a "twist" and the whole thing just get more ridiculous with each plot point. Of course the main events of the book happen in a place with no mobile phone reception and the key witness lacks credibility and the whole thing relies on bizarre coincidences and the stupidity of our main cast of characters. I didn't think much of the reveal of Lydias wrongdoing, yes it had terrible consequences but once again those consequences relied so heavily on ridiculous coincidences that I felt let down.

One dimensional doesn't begin to describe the weakness of the characterisation, all but one of the characters seem to exist on either end of a moral scale of good and evil and when their actions deviate from these positions it seems completely out of character rather than any sort of nuance. I found Lydia especially(whose voice we hear through flash backs, letters and diaries) to be mind numbingly dull, smug and arrogant and not in the least bit sympathetic. We are constantly reminded that Lydia loves her kids and her kids love her... well... err... isn't that the norm?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner... 21 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
... for Erin Kelly.

A piece of brilliant, gripping, powerful escapism. I couldn't put it down and actually read it in two sittings. None of the characters were particularly likeable, but that didn't detract from the extremely intense, fast paced, storyline.

Dive on in, you won't regret buying this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 3 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Erin Kelly is brilliant, in my opionion the best contemporary author. Her character analysis is exceptional and she has created some unforgetable characters like Biba at The Poison Tree. The good plots and excellent writing style just adds to the joy that is reading her books.
The Burning Air is as greatly written as the rest of her work, but my very favourite remains The Poison Tree.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jill 21 Jan 2014
By Jillie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really gripping, read well into the night as couldn't put it down. Will definitely read more by the same author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book....give it a go. 17 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was a bit tentative about reading this book after seeing some of the reviews but I actually enjoyed it. I thought it was a good story and for a while struggled with who I felt most sorry for. it had a good or and while it wasn't as good as The Poison Tree, I actually preferred it to The Sick Rose. if you haven't read any of these books then you should. xx
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
This book kept me reading, it was hard to put down. Enjoy!
I didn't guess any of the twists, this book will not disappoint.
Published 1 day ago by Marian
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good read
Excellent, i couldn't put this book down, therefore five stars
Published 2 days ago by julie harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gripping plot so well written
Published 3 days ago by sandra edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
superb story writter
Published 27 days ago by MRS A CHAFFER
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
I quite enjoyed this, but for me it wasn't as good as The Poison Tree, which I loved. I found it a bit too drawn out and unbelievable. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another tense and great read from Erin Kelly.
Published 1 month ago by Miu miu Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant read!
Published 1 month ago by Angela
3.0 out of 5 stars Great start but went too far beyond belief
This novel reviews well and there is an introduction by Sophie Hannah in the version I had so it has to be worth a go. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Janie U
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been sooooo much better.
Had never heard of this author and only read it as it was the choice of my book club. I read the back & thought this is right up my street! Read more
Published 2 months ago by buddy boo
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read
Fabulous. Loved the Poison Tree and this is just as good as it draws you in with fantastic but strange characters, all of whom are totally believable. Read more
Published 2 months ago by jivebanana
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