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It’s that wonderful time of year again, where everything is decorated for the holidays and we are bustling about trying to get presents bought and wrapped, cookies baked, and pulling out our sweaters for a Texas winter. Normally I would be critiquing a book about a serial murderer, but it just didn’t seem right to do that. That being said, I still read a book about murder...... Or did I? 

Burned by Edward Humes (who also happens to be a Pulitzer Prize winner) is a story about a woman named Jo Ann Parks who may or may not have killed her own children by setting the family home on fire. Was it an accident? Bad wiring? Or something more sinister; a crime most people, especially mothers, couldn’t even think about committing. Throughout the book, you have the chance to see through the point of view of everyone that was involved with the crime, including the California Innocence Project, who plays a huge role in trying to free Jo Ann from a wrongful conviction, but is she really innocent? 

The story telling by Mr. Humes is extremely detailed for those of us who know nothing about the investigation that goes into fire crime scenes and also gives the reader a good background story about Jo Ann. Her life was not easy by any means but does that turn a person into a heartless killer? You’ll have to make your own decisions and see where the story leads you. 

This book touched a fear in me that I realize now is not unfounded. As a victim of three house fires throughout my life, I find that it is crucial that we take these types of stories seriously. Not to scare you or anything but according to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) faulty wiring is the second leading cause of home fires in the U.S. and 44% of Christmas tree fires are caused by lights or electrical distribution errors. Don’t take chances people! Be aware, be safe, have a plan. In other words, don’t be like Jo Ann Parks. 


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