Review: Lola on Fire by Rio Youers

Rating: 8.0/10


Arthur Ellis Award finalist Rio Youers combines vengeance and deceit, love and bullets, secrets, and twists in this high-octane action thriller with a vibrant emotional core.

Brody Ellis is short on luck and even shorter on cash to buy the medication his sister Molly needs.
Desperate, he robs a convenience store, but on the way out, he bumps into a young woman and loses his wallet. Just when he expects the cops to arrive, the phone rings. It’s Blair Mayo–the woman he bumped into–and she’s got the missing billfold.

Brody will get it back, but only if he does her a favor: steal her late mother’s diamonds from her wicked stepmom. But when he gets to the house, he finds a gruesome crime scene–and a security camera. Brody knows he’s been framed.

Back home, the terrified young man gets another call. The police won’t get the incriminating video footage, Blair says. Instead, her daddy, the notorious mobster Jimmy Latzo, will exact his own kind of revenge. 

Hitting the road to save their lives, Brody and Molly realize that they’ve become pawns in a mysterious game–one that involves a notorious enforcer named Lola Bear who brutally crossed paths with Jimmy Latzo twenty-six years before. . . a ghost from the past who is intimately connected to their lives.


Thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of Lola on Fire for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Lola on Fire is a pedal to the medal, pulse-pounding crime caper turned action thriller that was as explosive as it was heartwarming. I’m always down for what Youers brings to the table and this one was no exception.

I have been a fan of Rio Youers for a while now, having devoured some of his more recent novels like Westlake Soul, The Forgotten Girl, and Halcyon as soon as copies were in my possession. He has a penchant for bringing the reader directly into the story on page one and having you emotionally involved with the characters seamlessly. On top of that, his stories are some of the most original I’ve read and quite unputdownable.

With Lola on Fire, while we have seen crime capers/action thrillers with BA male and female protagonists, this one just felt different; and it could be the way in which Youers framed the story. While the reader becomes familiar with Lola in the onset, the main storyline actually revolves around Brody Ellis and the absolute mess he has gotten himself into: the robbery, the frame job, and, well, the fact that he is now running away from a mobster with little to no cash and his sister. How in the world do they actually expect to get out of their predicament?

This was a very straight-forward thriller, unlike some of the author’s previous works that took a little bit of imagination and perhaps some re-read pages. It was also a bit more cinematic which kept the adrenaline up and allowed for continued engagement with the story; it read more like a movie, one with a quicker pace that allowed for a faster read (if that makes any sense). It also helped that I felt an instantaneous connection with Brody, especially through the struggles he and his sister endure on the daily. While he doesn’t like the prototypical “savior” type at the beginning, he does some very quick growing up as they put rubber to the streets across the states.

All in all, if you enjoy action packed thrillers that are more on the crime side of things, this is an excellent grab from one of my favorite authors.

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