It’s tough to believe Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is her first novel, as the legal thriller is so well done, but Kim’s trial attorney experience has been put to good use in making readers feel they are residing in the courtroom and heightens the suspense.

The premise revolved around the “miracle submarine” of early hyperbaric chambers. Miracle Creek, Virginia is a small rural town and the Yoos operate their miracle submarine in their backyard. There are different uses and different people using the device when an explosion occurs and the tragedy affects so many people.

The medical issues that drive people to use a hyperbaric chamber are thoroughly discussed but never boring, and bring hope to so many. So the question revolves around who would set this fire and why?

Told from multiple points of view, this is as much a haunting character study as it is a courtroom drama when one of the parents, Elizabeth, whose autistic son was using the chamber, is put on trial for murder when her child and another adult die in the fire, not to mention severe injuried to others.

There is the family drama here, plus the wonderful courtroom scenes, and also the underlying mystery of what really happened that day. There is the cultural situation of the Korean family, too, and the story is heightened by the way Kim chooses to have her characters tell it.

This is an accomplished debut by a writer who must have more stories to tell that we’ll be reading.