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Vertical Burn [Mass Market Paperback]

Earl Emerson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 4 2003
Six months after firefighter John Finney fought his way out of a burning Seattle warehouse to get help, no one remembers him giving the directions that pinpointed his partner’s position inside. No one can remember anything about Finney except that he left his friend to die. But Finney doesn’t believe the fire was an accident. And he doesn’t believe the campaign against him is one either. Trying to reconstruct the events from that tragic day, Finney uncovers suspicious actions by men at the scene. With only one person on his side—a female firefighter who is herself an outcast in the department—Finney begins to piece together an astounding conspiracy that will turn friends into suspects and every man inside the department into a potentially deadly enemy. And the most horrific fire is yet to burn.

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From Amazon

This fact-based thriller is more facts than thrills, as Earl Emerson, a lieutenant in the Seattle Fire Department who's penned a series of solid mysteries featuring detective Thomas Black, puts his professional expertise front and center. That may be a plus, as the book's centerpiece is an arson fire in a skyscraper, a scene that brings the NYFD's heroism on 9/11 sadly to mind, giving this book in timeliness what it lacks in narrative drama. There's a plot somewhere here which has to do with a few venal, scheming bad guys in a (fictional) Seattle Fire Department who keep a hero fireman from upsetting their big score by discrediting him, and when that doesn't work, trying to kill him. But Emerson concentrates less on character, story, and pacing than on the highly technical details of urban firefighting, which, while perhaps widening Emerson's appeal to a general audience, may make this title less than compelling to the devoted fans of his mysteries. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Seattle fireman Emerson, of Shamus Award¤winning Thomas Black detective series fame, returns with his 12th novel¢a tale of arson, intrigue and sublimated rivalries among Seattle firefighters. John Finney, son of a retired fire chief and brother of a 21-year veteran, is haunted by the fire that killed one of his colleagues and placed him under departmental suspicion. Finney thinks the fire was arson, but can't prove it¢until two other fires erupt under even more suspicious circumstances, killing another one of his partners. In short order, the mistrust of Finney's colleagues flares dangerously close to criminal prosecution, while a mysterious rogue fire engine tries to run him down. Finney starts up his own investigation of the fires, and even manages to spark up a romance with Diana Moore, the department's only female firefighter. But when Finney's amateur sleuthing turns up a crooked business tycoon and an arson insurance scam involving Seattle's tallest tower, Emerson turns up the heat. The novel is, as expected, long on details of firefighting and its incipient hazards, though there is little mention of the real and enduring conflicts between the investigative arm of firefighters and law enforcement. Newcomers to Emerson's work who enjoy thrillers like Suzanne Chazin's The Fourth Angel should find little to complain about; as an example of the genre, however, in plotting and dialogue ( I ain't seen nothing but this goddamn smoke. Thought maybe my first wife was in there cooking dinner. ) this is at best a two-alarmer.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long on Action Short on Plot March 28 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Earl Emerson is the author of the Shamus Award winning Thomas Black detective series. This is a series that concentrates quite heavily on the characters in the story and their development throughout the series as well as providing well-plotted mysteries. With VERTICAL BURN, Emerson has gone for a more action-oriented story, relying on his intimate knowledge of the fire brigade and fire fighting to enthuse his audience. To a large extent it works, the adrenaline charged brushes with death while combating a fire provide the story's high points, no questions asked.
The story's protagonist is John Finney, a fireman of considerable experience with the Seattle Fire Department. The book gets off to a furious start when Finney's company is called out to a fire and when they arrive they are faced with a large building full of smoke with the possibility of victims trapped inside and no backup because all other crews are busy, called out to various alarms, both real and false. During their search of the building, Finney and his partner become trapped by a collapsed wall with the final result seeing Finney barely escape with his life, but his partner dying in the fire.
The fallout from this tragedy is substantial for Finney both emotionally and physically. Apart from losing his partner and mentor, he suffers some pretty serious burns from the fire, but worse, he knows that in the eyes of his fellow firemen he is to blame for his partner's death. Due to memory loss thanks to the smoke inhalation he suffered, he can't be sure himself whether or not he was to blame.
A second fire results in a similar outcome to the first. This time Finney is certain that facts are being fabricated by the fire investigators that make Finney look, at best incompetent and at worst, criminally negligent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read Jan. 23 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This was my first Earl Emerson book. I come from a fire fighting family and that is what caught my eye. As far as the fire fighting stuff it was very well done. You get caught up in "what will happen next" mode and it is hard to stop reading. They only thing that was a little disappointing was the ending. The last chapter just sort of bluntly ends the story and there was alot more that could have been added. With every other chapter he goes into great detail about all the fire fighting aspects of it but in the end it is just done. Otherwise a great book, I am now ordering more of Earl's books to check them out as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing June 10 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Finney, the main character in Vertical Burn, is rather flat. The plot plodded along at a pace that barely kept me interested. I probably wouldn't have finished it if not for the fact that I'm a loyal Emerson fan. The book's highly detailed accounts of firefighting were obviously written by a pro in the field, but this was done at the expense of the phenomenal storytelling Emerson is so capable of. I wanted to get lost between the pages like I've done so many times with Thomas Black and Mac Fontana. This didn't even come close to happening as I read Vertical Burn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Hot Book! Dec 27 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I won't send you to this novel because of the plot, which is certainly strong, though fanciful. And I won't send you because of the characters, also strong and fanciful. I will send you to the book because it is filled with action and packed with fascinating details about firefighting and fire-related risks. "Vertical Burn" is a spellbinding experience and an excursion into a world which few of us know much about. It's a fascinating reading experience and I recommend it highly.
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Format:Hardcover
In a departure from his two ongoing series (Thomas Black - Seattle detective and Mac Fontana - rural Washington fire-chief), Earl Emerson has come up with a top-notch mystery thriller. (Though some aspects of the fires and characters did borrow from similar ideas originally in the Fontana books.)
Again the scene of the action is set in Seattle. A fire breaks out in a warehouse and musicians are supposedly trapped inside. For some reason most of the fire companies are answering false alarms and nuisance calls, so the fire fighters are seriously short-handed. The fire gets out of hand while Jack Finney and his partner are still searching for the victims. A wall falls on the partner and the lack of air and the heat force Finney from the building. Outside of the room where the partner is trapped, Finney runs into the chief and another firefighter. He tells them where his partner is before he is forced from the building. But the partner is never discovered until after the building has burnt to the ground.
Six months later, Finney is still haunted by the fire especially since everyone blames him for leaving his partner to die. He has scoured the ruins of the warehouse repeatedly and studied all aspects of the official details on the fire. His suspicions grow that the fire was not an accident ... and fears that something worse is yet to come.
Don't read this book before bed, because you'll never get to sleep! I couldn't put it down. Emerson's detailing of the fires and the heroes who risk their lives fighting them is superb. He knows the territory first hand and his writing puts you on the fire trucks and in the heart of the inferno! I liked his series books, but VERTICAL BURN is in a class by itself. It earned my *****+ rating, and I recommend it to all of you.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT DOWN...
This stand-alone book of Emerson's was thrilling from the very first page to the very last page. I have read every book he's written in both his Thomas Black and his Mac Fontana... Read more
Published on June 9 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting book to read.....
I have been a Earl Emerson fan for many years, reading his Mac Fontana series, and his latest one Vertical Burn. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Vertical Burn is a HOT thriller!
Being a diehard Earl Emerson fan, I looked forward to this book with both avid anticipation and some measure of doubt. Read more
Published on July 26 2002 by Carol Frisbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Page burner
When Carol Burnett was just starting out, she appeared on Talk of the Town (later called The Ed Sullivan show) and sang a song titled, "I Saw Every Movie That Ann Sheridan Ever... Read more
Published on July 24 2002 by Charlotte Vale-Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars His best yet!
I've been an Earl Emerson fan for many years, and enjoy both of his main characters. John Finney, in Vertical Burn, is another terrific character, and one I hope we'll see again. Read more
Published on July 5 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A good author gets even better!
Other reviews will give you the plot. I will add that Emerson creates vivid, breathing, flawed human beings whose thoughts and feelings and actions interest me, and none more so... Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by Naomi Johnson
2.0 out of 5 stars WHERE'S THE FIRE?
Sorry to say this book does not live up to the hype; nor the other reviews that praise it so much. It is only so-so. Read more
Published on June 23 2002 by MJR reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot Fun for the Summertime
I purchased this book to add to my collection; I have other books by Earl Emerson, several fearuring Mac Fontana, the others featuring Thomas Black. They were good. Read more
Published on June 18 2002 by John R. Dollriehs
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