May 1, 2009

Vertical Burn

Earl Emerson

Set in my hometown (Seattle), Vertical Burn is an intense story about John Finney, a firefighter who while fighting a blaze in a warehouse, leaves his partner behind and returns for help, giving directions to his partner's location. But he isn't reached in time- and the blame is laid on Finney. In the aftermath of the fire and his partner's death, Finney finds himself suspect and his reputation at stake- yet he is convinced that the fire was set by an arson, a conspiracy is going on among his fellow firefighters, and he's being framed. This book reads like a movie: action, suspense, a misunderstood main character, love story and plenty of intrigue. The characters are kind of flat and the plot feels predictable in places- but what really got me hooked on this story was the details of the life and work of firefighters. Descriptions of their experiences inside burning buildings make you feel the thick choking smoke, the weight of equipment, the exhaustion and heat. The technical aspects of the job- how they determine where fires began, what caused them, how to stop them, all the work involved- is so interesting it sustained my interest when the story faltered. An engaging read. (It wasn't until after I finished this book that I discovered it's part of a series- and the author is a firefighter chief himself -thus the excellent technical details).

Rating: 3/5                   340 pages, 2002

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  1. I heard of this book called Fighting Fire by Caroline Paul, a non-fiction book about her experiences as a firefighter. I read a good review of it somewhere, you might like to check the book out.

  2. Thanks! I'll take a look at it.


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