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Irene Watson

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Burned: A Tragic Mystery by J. A. Nevling: Book Review
by Irene Watson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, December 20, 2008
Posted: Saturday, December 20, 2008

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"Burned: A Tragic Mystery" by author J.A. Nevling is set in southern California and begins innocently one Sunday morning. Protagonist Sharon Nagol decides to have lunch with her best friend, leaving husband Jim home alone to care for their infant daughter. While Sharon is away, a ravaging fire ensues, severely burning both Jim and the baby. When Sharon realizes Jim's negligence caused the fire, she separates from him, moves away and is hired as an accountant at Prescott Incorporated. There the mystery begins.

Burned: A Tragic Mystery

J. A. Nevling
Outskirts Press (2008)
ISBN 9781432724436
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (11/08) 

J. A. Nevling’s “Burned” is a sad tale indeed. It is a story of sad, small people dealing with the big, bad world and wickedness of people far more experienced and ruthless than them. It is a story of decent, hardworking people, whose one small mistake haunts them until it nearly destroys them. It is a story about pettiness and hurt feelings, about unlimited greed and lust and unfaithfulness. Above all, it is a story of the modern world.

Jim and Sharon Nagol were very happy in their small, simple world. They were not reaching for the stars, but were content with what they had. Their house might have been modest, but it was cozy and all theirs. Sharon quit work to raise their infant daughter, Anna. They loved each other and their child dearly. They had good friends and they enjoyed their simple lifestyle. Then one day it all changed – in a flash, both figuratively and literally. Jim, who was supposed to watch Anna, took his attention away for a few moments to watch the football game. That moment of inattentiveness cost the Nagols dearly. Sharon found herself unable to forgive Jim for the role he played in their daughter’s incident, so she moved out and took Anna with her. She also returned to work, finding employment in a large accounting company, Prescott Inc., where she briefly fell under the spell of her handsome and very virile boss, Cam. After having been asked by Cam to review some paperwork before an upcoming audit, strange things seem to start happening to Sharon, and one night she’s involved in a nearly fatal hit-and-run accident. The two detectives put on the case start believing that Sharon might be in real danger, and they set up a scheme to unmask the villain. But this sets in motion a whole series of ugly revelations, and the whole drama comes to a deadly end.

Overall, I enjoyed the plot and the story in “Burned” by J. A. Nevling and admire the author’s attempts to deal with real moral dilemmas and bravely try to understand female mind.


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Reviewed by Deb Rubino (Reader) 9/9/2012
J.A. Nevling brings the reader the story of a horrible accident involving young Anna, a baby that is seriously burned by her father’s negligence. Jim, the baby’s father, is so engrossed in his own activities that he unintentionally sets the house on fire, resulting in the baby being almost fatally damaged. While he also sustains injuries, his wife Sharon, who was out shopping, cannot forgive him and ultimately leaves him.

Sharon takes a position at an accounting firm and soon finds herself not only involved with her boss, but embroiled in what seems to be a conspiracy. Suddenly Sharon does not know who to trust in her life. There are a few suspicious characters involved in her life that has the reader wondering what their agenda is, and if they are possibly part of the business scheme.

As a reader, I do not like to give bad reviews but I found that the story fell a bit flat for me. While waiting to see what the big plot was, I found myself disappointed that the characters were cartoonish and the entire story seemed to move around haphazardly without a proper rationalization of each other’s motives. The characters seemed underdeveloped and I feel that the story of Sharon being so in love with her husband but not forgiving him for what was a horrible accident was not well written. As a reader, I would have like to see more of why Sharon was so unwilling to forgive Jim. I agree that it was a horrible accident; however Sharon seemed to be a bit of a selfish wimp who would not even give her husband, who was also wounded, one iota of a chance to work the situation out.

The entire book was a bit uneven and the finale anti-climatic. As I read the book, I thought, “There has to be more” but was dissatisfied. While I do commend the author on putting the story together in an easy reading fashion, the premise of someone trying to harm Sharon never got off the ground. If you are looking for a great mystery, I am sorry to say that Burned is not that book.

Reviewed by April Hanson (Reader) 7/18/2009
In Burned: A Tragic Mystery, first time author J.A. Nevling weaves an exciting tale of intrigue and suspense that kept me turning the pages long past the time when I should have been sound asleep.

Sharon and Jim Nagol are first time parents living in San Diego with their 9 month old daughter, Anna. While Sharon is out for the day with a friend, Jim is left to tend the baby and enjoy the football game on the big screen TV. Unfortunately, his first time alone with his daughter ends in tragedy when a fire breaks out and both are seriously hurt and possibly dying. As events continue to unfold in the aftermath of the accident, the author takes us a few months forward where we find Sharon living in an apartment, alone, in Los Angeles. She has a new job as an accountant at Prescott Incorporated, where she gets hit on by her boss and stumbles across some shady bookkeeping that may or may not, land her in a heap of trouble. After she is nearly killed in an accident that really isn’t an accident, the wild ride really begins and t he reader is left guessing until the very end.

The author writes the story in an alternating present/past format that adds to the mystery and tends to leave the reader on the edge of a cliff for a chapter or two. I think this was the best move for this story as it wouldn’t have been interesting or exciting if written in chronological format.

I also liked the fact that the author didn’t go on and on with flowery character descriptions and rarely used simile or metaphor to make his point. Sometimes all that needs to be said is “she has a perfect smile” instead of going on for a paragraph or two about how her smile is like a summer day. The simple writing style moved the story along and was refreshing after reading so many of the unnecessarily wordy stories that are out there today.

All in all, I would recommend this book to those who like a story that is well written, has interesting characters, and isn’t afraid to get to the point with as few words as possible. I applaud J.A. Nevling for producing such an appealing and dramatic story that kept me, the person who always figures things out before the conclusion, in suspense until the very end.
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