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Fire Lover Mass Market Paperback – May 27, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

PRAISE FOR FIRE LOVER:“…lines converge in a sock-’em-between-the-eyes revelation…A barn burner.” (Arthur Salm, San Diego Union-Tribune)

About the Author

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Onion Field, The Blooding, The Choirboys, and many other fiction and nonfiction works. He has won a number of awards, including the Edgar Allan Poe award and the Rodolfo Walsh Prize for investigative journalism. He lives with his wife in California.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060095288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060095284
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Orr was a firefighter by destiny but not desire. His hidden wish was to someday be a policeman, but that never came to be. So he followed into the firefighting world after spending his boyhood days filled with marveling at firefighters rushing to extinguish blazes in life risking manuevers. Those impressions led him to become a firefighter with the Glendale Fire Department when he became an adult.
While there, he quickly climbed the ranks until he reached fire captain. Along the way he gained the reputation of being Southern Cal's most famous and respected arson investigator as well as an author of firefighting articles which lead to a fact-based book of his own. A rather storybook tale of a perfect life.
As Orr's ego grew, he needed more. The oportunity arose when one arson continuously escape his grasps. The arsonist, using the same simple yet devastating device, was basically terrorizing the area and his frolicing left four innocent people dead as well as destroying millions of dollars in property damage as well as the damage to nature itself. As is often the case, this arsonist got comfortable and made a mistake after years of devastation. One precious clue was left behind and fell into the wrong hands. This clue would reveal the true identity of the cruel arsonist and the horrid facts behind his hobby.
Orr had created the fires to create fame for himself. His ego wanted, needed the limelight and he needed a nemisis uncatchable that would keep him in the public's eye. Sadly, his own desire for the ultimate reward was of little value in a firefighter world and beyond his grasp. Probably acknowledging this, he created his own fame through terror. John Orr was a firefighter that did not belong in that world.
The author does an excellent job on this story and tells it like it is. The court room part is a bit longwinded and boring, but reality isn't always excitement, as John Orr himself can tell you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read all of Joseph Wambaugh's books, from THE NEW CENTURIONS to FIRE LOVER, and this was the least enjoyable.
FIRE LOVER probably doesn't measure up because there's not a whole lot of suspense. We know from the synopsis that arson investigator John Orr may have been the most notorious arsonist since Nero. Orr was a brazen offender, setting fires in the middle of the day when customers were in the stores, leading to the death of four at Ole's Home Center in South Pasadena. But he makes one big mistake, leaving his fingerprint on yellow legal paper that was used, along with a cigarette, a rubber band and three matches, to start a fire similar to the one at Ole's Home Center. The fingerprint was almost ignored because of the jealousy between firemen and police arson investigators.
Much of the book involves courtroom gymnastics. There are so many closing statements that you tell yourself, "this must be the last one." But you're wrong. There are more of them during the penalty phase and Wambaugh cites them all, practically verbatim.
Wambaugh is also famous for his irreverent narrative tone. This works in CHOIRBOYS, where we assume the narrator is a man in blue, but here he's supposed to be an objective journalist. He refers to jurors, lawyers, and judges as "...strange fish that lazily glide, blowing gas bubbles that pop ineffectually on the surface of the litigation tanks in which they live and breed." He likes this strange fish motif so much he uses it over and over again.
All of this said, I'm still looking forward to Wambaugh's next fictional tome. It seems an eternity since FLOATERS.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is right up there with THE ONION FIELD as a Wambaugh non-fiction book. Very interesting reading about a firefighter who was also a serial arsonist. Got a little long in the court room section of the book but other than that I found it very compeling. Wambaugh is always a great read.
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Format: Hardcover
As a child in Los Angeles, John Orr revered firefighters watching them as if he was sitting in front of a TV set. He relished the way the firefighter risked his or her life in the line of duty. As a young adult, John joined the Glendale, California Fire Department and quickly became one of the best. Over time, he became a fire captain and eventually an arson investigator highly regarded by his peers as one of the foremost experts.

John also moonlighted as an arsonist who remained undetectable for years and whose fires killed four people and caused millions of dollars in damage. When he finally made an error and was caught, the entire firefighting community refused to believe that one of their heroes could be a serial arsonist.

The hardest thing about this true-life crime biography is that it is true crime caused by someone whose dangerous occupation most people respect even more so after 9/11. So chilling is this account this reviewer keeps wanting to paraphrase an old horror movie ad that it's only a book. However, Joseph Wambaugh brings the fiery duality of his subject vividly alive so that the reader observes a criminal considered by the FBI as "the most prolific American arsonist of the twentieth century". Fans of true crime will want to read this account that never slows down as FIRE LOVER: A TRUE STORY is Mr. Wambaugh at his finest.

Harriet Klausner
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