Into the Inferno Hardcover – Mar 4 2003
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It's a tribute to Earl Emerson's narrative skill that he manages to make this implausible medical mystery not only believable but also compelling. When fire chief Jim Swopes traces the unknown disease that's wiped out half his department in less than a week to a truck crash on a western Washington highway, he knows his days are numbered--like the other victims, all of whom died, he has just seven days to live unless he can find an antidote to a chemical poison no one else believes exists. Helped by a beautiful doctor whose comatose sister drove one of the trucks in the crash, he traces the poison to a biotech firm with nothing to lose and everything to gain by letting the clock run out. But until it does, this tightly plotted race-against-time thriller will keep you riveted. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Seattle firefighter Jim Swope-the irresistible protagonist of this latest high-octane thriller from the author of the Thomas Black detective series-is, in his own words, "destined for a jail cell, a straitjacket, or more likely, to end up dancing the funky chicken in a fusillade of bullets." This divorced, womanizing father of two has just realized he has exactly six days to figure out the nature of the mysterious ailment that's been killing off his North Bend Fire and Rescue colleagues-and is about to fell him, too. It all started several months ago, when he and other firefighters reported to the scene of a highway accident. It was here that Swope met emotionally unstable trucker Holly Riggs, a woman who became his girlfriend, then his ex-girlfriend, then his stalker. When Holly's sister, Stephanie, finds her in a coma months after the accident, she figures it was a suicide attempt. Only when Jim's colleagues also fall into comas does Jim realize that they were all poisoned at the scene of the accident. Each victim has only a week to live from the day his symptoms begin, and Jim already has trembling hands and a headache. He and Stephanie team up to uncover a tangled web of corporate corruption extending far beyond the Pacific Northwest, but centering on a nearby "hazmat" facility. Emerson, a veteran Seattle firefighter, infuses the firehouse scenes with expert detail, but it's the full-bodied characterization and wry humor of "mad dog" Swope that really sizzle. Readers who like a little hot sauce with their mystery will snatch this up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
A good read for something that I picked up at the library just scanning through the shelves. Pleasantly surprised and pleased, even though it wasn't the type of book I thought it would be...
Swope is terrified when he begins to experience the same symptoms as his fallen colleagues. With the help of Stephanie Riggs, the sister of one of the victims, Swope starts investigating the "North Bend Syndrome" and what he and Stephanie find out is shocking and horrifying.
Earl Emerson sustains the reader's interest throughout this unusual novel. I loved the character of Jim Swope, an individual whose childhood traumas have left lasting scars, especially in his ability to relate to women. Jim is also a loving father and a courageous man who is willing to learn from his mistakes. I liked the character of Stephanie Riggs, as well. She is a tough and intelligent doctor who is dogged in her pursuit of the truth about the syndrome that has destroyed her sister.
Emerson balances the book's humorous and serious aspects skillfully and he maintains a high level of excitement throughout the novel. I recommend "Into the Inferno." It works both as a thriller and as a quirky psychological study of a beleaguered man who is pushed to his limits.
Amazing how the man can write such a dark tale about a man facing an imminent, ugly, and irrevocable end (brain death), and still find so many ways to make me laugh. Swope, our "hero" if he can be called that, is one of those guys who in real life makes my eyes cross, he's so inept and cowardly in his personal relationships, and so sure that the trip wire in those relationships could never have been put there by him. Yet he's drawn so finely by Emerson that Swope's flaws are part of the attraction -- you just can't help liking the idiot! He's flesh and blood and so very human.
The plot -- you can read about that in the professional reviews. Suffice it to say, this is one fabulous page-turner. Swope is running against the clock, and the short chapters -- every single one contributing to moving the plot forward; no wasted words here! -- seem to add to the quick pacing.
As for Emerson's prose, it's always been very, very good, but in this book I think he has taken his work to a new level. In his hands Crude American Vernacular becomes Sheer Poetry, and I'd love to provide examples but I doubt if amazon.com will print those words. Just... the letters MF now have a whole different connotation than the common street profanity I've always heard!
This is a beautiful book, filled with both honesty and humor (I mean laugh-out-loud funny). More than a simple thriller, we get the inside scoop on a man's self-examination when facing the total devastation of his life. How Swope comes to grips with his own sins, and the sins of others, is as fascinating as the fires and aid calls that Emerson describes to perfection. And yeah, I might even have got a bit wet around the eyes at the end.
And I want Mel Gibson to play Swope in the movie...
And one last note: The best, I mean THE VERY BEST chapter titles yet!
Most recent customer reviews
Emerson is one of the best of today's thriller writers - quirky, human, entertaining - with a good sense of locale. The Mac Fontana and Thomas Black series are outstanding. Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2003
An ordinary freeway accident between two trucks during a Pacific Northwest winter. Six months later people begin dying. Read morePublished on June 2 2003 by Emily M. Dyer
Earl Emerson's experience as a firefighter is evident in this fast-paced, page-turning thriller. The plot is slightly implausible, but overall the plot is so suspensful that any... Read morePublished on May 29 2003 by SDRTX
I expected a sit on the edge of your seat book like "vertical burn". It started out with a who-done-it theme and I got dissapointed. As I read, it came around. Read morePublished on April 18 2003 by Rick Olson
This was my first Earl Emerson book. The local librarian recommended it, and I'm sure glad. This was an exciting, suspenseful page-turner; and I really didn't know whether I... Read morePublished on April 18 2003 by Judith C. Oswood
Earl Emerson is my favorite author. His newest endeavor is only his second stand-alone novel. The writing is crisp, funny and totally enthralling. Read morePublished on March 13 2003
See book summary above.
This is the first title I've read by Earl Emerson, and I am duly impressed. Read more