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Into the Inferno Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345445929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345445926
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I read this book in one night.
Amazon Customer
And what a fine talent the author possesses in mixing his daily working life with the writing life.
Gabrielle Luthy
This is the first title I've read by Earl Emerson, and I am duly impressed.
Konrad Kern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Johnson on March 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Earl Emerson is my favorite author. His newest endeavor is only his second stand-alone novel. The writing is crisp, funny and totally enthralling. The lead character is not your typical problem solver. He thinks of himself as a jerk (especially to women) and not very bright. It's actually quite refreshing. It's highly entertaining to read a novel wherein: the reader in captivated by the plot, entrigued by the characters, and can appreciate the fine points of the author's style. Emerson can have a character who was brought up in a religoius cult say that he thinks his parents concept of heaven sounds "boring as hell." This novel is never boring!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Hanniver on May 1, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a typical Earl Emerson mystery, which means it's a wowzer of a story, with plausible characterization, wry humor, good misdirection and nonstop action scenes--but this one goes even farther. Jim Swope, the firefighter hero, will become a vegetable unless he discovers an antidote for an unknown poison that he and several others handled during a highway fire, and that quest gives this novel the flavor of a near-future sci-fi medical thriller.

I love Emerson's chapter titles in his Mac Fontana and stand-alone firefighting novels, which often make references to sci-fi books or movies (like "Stephanie Gets Into Donovan's Brain" in this book), so I figure it was only a matter of time before my favorite fireman would cross the line and slip a sci-fi element into his plot! More! More!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Vale-Allen VINE VOICE on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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