In Seattle, veteran firefighters John Finney and Bill
Cordifies are searching for trapped people inside a nasty
fire at Leary Way when a wall collapses. Bill is pinned
under a segment of the wall so John goes after help. He
finds Fire Chief Charlie Reese and firefighter Robert Kub.
They follow John's directions, but return empty-handed.
Afterward, Charlie tells the press that John panicked and
said zilch to him about deserting his partner leaving him
behind to die.
John is ostracized by just about everyone while Charlie
is a hero. Every day for the next several months, John
goes over what happened in that inferno and what he could
have done differently. He concludes he did nothing wrong,
and that the odious Charlie used the chaos at the scene to
further his own career perhaps at the cost of Bill's life.
Unless he can break Robert, John knows his chances of proof
are slim while the odds of his remaining a pariah to his
peers are a sure thing.
When VERTICAL BURN follows John and Bill into the fire
and its aftermath on the former, the novel is one of the
best firefighting thrillers in several years. However, a
well-written subplot involving a conspiracy slows down the
insightful prime theme. Still John is a hero struggling
with vindication for his character reminding the audience
of a merging of the two brothers in the movie Turk 186.
Earl Emerson is the duke of this sub-genre and his latest
thriller proves how regal a writer he is.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted April 7, 2002