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Fire Lover Mass Market Paperback – May 27, 2003
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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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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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am an engineer with a pronounced preference for non-fiction, over fiction. Joseph Wambaugh's gift for writing covers both genres, and I can only wonder how he supplied so many... Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Becich
Wambaugh's non-fiction is as fascinatingly presented as his fictionPublished 2 months ago by Meri F. Clason
Wambaugh at his non-fiction best. Another great true-crime story. Highly recommended.Published 3 months ago by John B. Bowers
I bought 40 books to complete my collection by S. Cannell, M. Connelly, J. Patterson, & J. Wambaugh. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer