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on 17 November 2011
Television tie-in novels must walk a fine line, showcasing characters that are successful in another medium without changing them, since that's the prerogative of the television series itself. This can make CSI novels rather difficult to execute sometimes, or at least difficult to make interesting. Jeff Mariotte does a pretty good job of this in his latest CSI effort, The Burning Season. Unfortunately, other missteps mar what would otherwise be a fairly enjoyable entry in the series.

Three separate crimes need to be solved by the intrepid Las Vegas nightshift CSIs. A fire in a small resort town of Mount Charleston, near Las Vegas, results in almost the entire subdivision being burned to the ground, as well as the deaths of six firefighters. There is the attempted roadside bombing of the head of a major cable news network, a network beset by large protests outside of the building and numerous death threats against the owner. Finally, a dog has taken a severed hand underneath the front porch of a suburban home. Retrieving the hand will lead Ray Langston into the dark underbelly of the illegal immigrant community.

Mariotte does a good job with the characterization of the various CSIs, making them interesting despite the fact that he can't unveil any major revelations about them. Instead, he explores some of the nuances where the show doesn't always tread, or little areas that work best in print. Sara Sidle, Gil Grissom's wife who returns to Vegas while Grissom is teaching in Paris, finds herself wondering whether it's time to move back away from civilization and the horrors that humans can inflict on each other. Mariotte also highlights the easy friendship that she and Nick Stokes share as they investigate the fire.

The other characters in the book are interesting, too, and fairly three-dimensional. Some come close to being clichéd stereotypes, such as the gun nut who lives in Mount Charleston and whose first thought is defending his home with a shotgun, along with going after the two hippies who he's sure started the fire. Mostly, characterization is not a problem in The Burning Season.

The problem basically lies in the politics in the novel. It's not that I agree or disagree with the politics presented; it's that Mariotte bends over so far backwards to avoid offending anybody that the novel loses focus. Dennis Daniels, the head of the news network and subject of the attempted assassination, is supposedly an "independent," which apparently means that he'll anger both sides of the political spectrum. It's hard to buy that somebody with such "middle of the road" policies would actually be generating the kinds of protests that Daniels experiences in the book, even if he does use his network to put forth his political views.

It doesn't help that the two groups primarily suspected of the bombing are a right-wing group and an extreme right-wing group. Still, Mariotte does treat the "regular" right-wing group pretty fairly, which is a plus. It's also quite affecting when we learn what's really behind the extremist group, too. That, too, is a refreshing change from the way these groups are typically portrayed.

The other political minefield that Mariotte enters is that of illegal immigration, which works a lot better in The Burning Season. Mariotte still tries to avoid offending anybody, by portraying the people themselves sympathetically even as he has Ray give lip service to the fact that enforcing the law is important. Mariotte does move beyond all that to show the true horrors that these people sometimes go through at the hands of predators who take advantage of their vulnerability.

Even the fire storyline features a few political statements and stereotypes, but overall the results are effective and affecting.

Overall, Mariotte's prose is fine, but the sections where he has to explain CSI technicalities and why their job is so tough feel awkward and uneven, dragging the story to a complete stop. Sometimes it actually stalls on for a full page or two. In chapter three, Sara and Greg Sanders exchange dialogue explaining why they can now use digital photography for crime scenes before actually getting onto the meat of the story. Most other times the narration explains things. These expository sections grow tiresome after a while.

The Burning Season is a fine CSI novel, as long as you can look past those issues. Some aspects may not bother every reader, depending on your political stance or your tolerance for authors trying to have it both ways. It's good to see our beloved CSI characters in print form again. While this may not be the best CSI book out there, it will do in a pinch.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book. © Dave Roy, 2011
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on 31 July 2011
An excellent addition to the book series. I've read a number of CSI books by Jeff Mariotte; all were great, and this one is no exception.
The use of the main characters throughout the book is good, as is their descriptions. As for the plots, these are great too and want to make you keep on reading. Descriptions of the various settings is top quality, painting a picture in your mind as you keep reading. The story plays out in your mind exactly as if you were watching it as part of the TV series.
The book itself has a decent number of pages (just over 300 which I like) and 28 chapters, some of which are short so you can always get the book out and just have a quick read if you only have a minute or so, rather than having to stop mid-way through a chapter for example.

Overall, a good book recommended to every CSI fan.
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on 20 August 2012
This is basically a CSI episode but transferred to book form instead of shown on TV. A couple of separate investigations involving different members of the team, and we jump back and forth between the two. The characters build on the TV personas, and the science is just as flawed as usual. However, if you like to watch CSI, you'll probably like the book. It's not a strong stand alone police procedural or murder mystery, but I enjoyed it as a TV spin-off.
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on 26 December 2012
Great read for the cold winter nights when nothing is worth watching on tv, a must read for any CSI fan
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on 8 March 2013
A must read, I have been a fan of the whole CSI franchise since the Las Vegas one started years ago, I have all three shows, the books, the graphic novels and the soundtracks, also needed this to help finish off the csi novels I have been collecting, a must buy for any csi fan of any of the 3 shows from Las Vegas to New York
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on 8 March 2013
A must read as i am a fan of the csi tv show, got the rest of the books, the graphic novels and soundtracks, i needed this to finish off the collection of csi novels, anyone who likes the tv shows will like the books, including this, a must buy
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on 25 December 2012
Loved the original CSI with Grissom and the team and it is great to have stories from this era too. This is a good read, lots of threads to come together in their usual fashion with the warmth of characters known from the TV series.
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on 21 March 2014
Thank you Donn Cortez for such a brilliant book, I haven't finished reading it yet but I wanted to give a review, it's very well written, don't want it to finish as it's such a good plot, will be looking forward to reading this writers other books. I highly recommend giving this book a chance :)
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on 20 July 2013
Very good read. True to csi characters as well thankfully. At least Langston didn't lead the investigation like he was at the end of his series.
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on 16 January 2015
Great book and story line totally unexpected ending i highly recommend CSI crime scene investigation Dark Sundays to any csi fan
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