While We Were Burning

Putnam. Apr. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9780593714959. $28. THRILLER
DEBUTAfter white suburbanite Elizabeth finds her friend dead, she wants answers. Patricia’s death is ruled a suicide, but Elizabeth doesn’t believe it and is obsessed with finding Patricia’s killer. Elizabeth’s husband, worried about her mental state, convinces her to hire a personal assistant to keep her on track. Enter Brianna, a beautiful and sophisticated Black woman who gets friendly with Elizabeth and pretends to help her look for answers, but actually has motives of her own. Brianna’s son was killed by the police, and she wants to find the woman who called them in that day. As they work together, Elizabeth and Brianna cross into dangerous territory. Koffi’s debut explores issues of race, class, and friendships between women and seeks to bring tragic and important issues to the forefront. However, the execution falls flat, as none of the characters are likable, and some of the situations in the novel are unbelievable.
VERDICT Although the premise is great, the execution leaves something to be desired.
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