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Into the Inferno [Hardcover]

Earl Emerson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 35.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

March 4 2003 Emerson, Earl
Earl Emerson, bestselling author of Vertical Burn, turns up the heat with this dynamic, fact-based depiction of the world of firefighting. In a frantic race against time, one man must unlock the secret to his own potential demise and that of his entire department—as they venture . . .


In the freezing heart of the Pacific Northwest winter, a group of firefighters from North Bend Fire and Rescue responds to a freeway accident. Two trucks have collided on the icy pavement. One of the trucks was transporting livestock; the other carried within its cargo an unmarked, innocuous-looking container. Now the highway is chaos with irate drivers, volunteer fire crews, and hundreds of escaped chickens.

The trucks are cleared, the highway reopens, and another day ends. But the repercussions of the crash are enormous. For six months later, the firefighters who were at the scene begin to mysteriously succumb to unexplained accidents and ailments. Jim Swope wakes up with the first, strange symptom—a symptom of an unknown disease that renders its victims brain-dead within a week. Now he has only seven days to determine how he and his fellow firefighters have been poisoned—and to discover an antidote . . . if one exists. If he doesn’t, these will be the last seven days of his life.

In a red-hot pursuit to the end, Earl Emerson puts real-life heroes up against seemingly insurmountable odds. Intense in the third degree, Into the Inferno is a brilliant melding of fact and thriller. Prepare yourself for the sweltering heat of wickedly good suspense.

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From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise... Jan. 7 2004
Being cooped in up the house in this storm, I've had plenty of time to read in the evenings. A novel I just finished was Into The Inferno by Earl Emerson. Looking at the cover, it would appear to be a firefighting story of some sort, but in actuality it's a medical thriller that has a firefighter as the main character. One day they are called to an accident scene involving a number of cars and some overturned cargo from a semi. Nothing appears to be suspect in the load, and everything is cleaned up with no problems. But five months later, the members of the fire station involved in the response start dying off and/or going brain-dead over a week when they start to show symptoms of an unknown disease. The main character recognizes that the source must be from the cargo spillage, and he races to find out the killer substance that is going to render him brain-dead in seven days unless he can solve the mystery. When he finds out the true source, the question becomes whether the condition or a gun will kill him first.
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...
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Jim Swope is a nervous firefighter in the Earl Emerson's new novel "Into the Inferno." Swope works in Washington State's North Bend Fire and Rescue Company, and this group of paid and volunteer firefighters have run into some serious trouble. One by one, the North Bend firefighters have either become seriously ill or died in violent accidents. Are these events coincidental or is there something more insidious going on?
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emerson strikes again! April 10 2003
I am always impressed by Emerson's talent, and I wonder after each new book when he finds the time to write--given his full-time job as a firefighter. But it's his first-hand experience as a firefighter that informs the best of his work and Into the Inferno is no exception. With fully drawn, exceptionally well-conceived characters, Emerson takes us along on a death trip with deeply conflicted womanizer Jim Swope. While Swope's view of himself is not a pleasant one, the reader cannot help but like this fellow because he's just so utterly likeable--particularly in his interaction with his two daughters. Given that I picked out the villain of the piece right away, it's a testament to Emerson's narrative gift that I stuck with the story, waiting for Swope's "aha!" moment. And it's delivered very well. There's so much action that there's scarcely breathing room--either for the characters or for the reader. There are also some very profound observations on life and what is, and isn't, valuable. Yet these observations are delivered within the context of the character and ring very true. For sheer entertainment value, Emerson's hard to beat.
Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emerson's best work yet! March 7 2003
I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment!
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 more
Published on Aug. 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful
An ordinary freeway accident between two trucks during a Pacific Northwest winter. Six months later people begin dying. Read more
Published on June 2 2003 by Emily M. Dyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling
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 more
Published on May 29 2003 by SDRTX
4.0 out of 5 stars Very predictable
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 more
Published on April 18 2003 by Rick Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh? or Cry?
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 more
Published on April 18 2003 by Judith C. Oswood
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Emerson in Years
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 more
Published on March 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A great thriller
See book summary above.
This is the first title I've read by Earl Emerson, and I am duly impressed. Read more
Published on March 12 2003 by Konrad Kern
4.0 out of 5 stars exciting suspense thriller
On I-90 near North bend, Washington, two trucks collide on the icy road. Rescue workers arrive to help the injured. Read more
Published on March 6 2003 by Harriet Klausner
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