Fire can both purify and destroy.

It purifies when it is used to burn away the dross to get to the priceless item beneath. It destroys when it is out of control. The recent Station Fire did lots of damage. It burned over 251 square miles before it was stopped. Fire can’t be controlled or tamed — only respected.

Fire is also a destructive force. Our hats should go off to those who choose the job of firefighter as their profession. The training it takes to be a fireman is intensive and demanding. It is not a profession for the fainthearted. The training a firefighter undergoes is intense. To enter the program one must pass three exams; a written, a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) and an aptitude test.

The CPAT consists of opening and closing a fire hydrant with a hydrant wrench 17 turns each way. They also must climb and descend an aerial ladder set at 60 degrees up to 50 feet. You also will be crawling through an attic or crawl space with a self-contained breathing apparatus strapped to the full firefighters’ gear. And to end it all you will be required to complete a search and rescue drill program.

Sometimes you win and save lives. Others times you are able to stop the fire before it does too much destruction. It is OK until the fire starts hunting you. In this debut novel, author Shawn Grady uses the background of firefighting to present us with a suspense tale. It is told in the first person. In the skin of Aidan O’Neill, a second generation firefighter, we experience what it is like to fight fires.

There is always the danger of someone being left in the fire. Then the rescue begins.

“Where’s the kid?”

“What kid?”

I followed alongside. “We heard there was a mother and child.”

“We … searched the whole … back there. Nobody there.”

I stopped. “No, we heard there was a kid.”

The fires are coming too close together to be an accident. Someone is targeting the area around the station. For what purpose would a pyromaniac start fires?

The writing is tight. The suspense is well done. The main plot is man against nature. We have a secondary plot of man against man.

In a flash back we are informed that Aidan’s father had died while fighting a fire that was suspected to be set by an arsonist.

“Normal fires didn’t burn that hot, that fast, that destructive.”

It is for this reason our hero is so intense. He wants to fight back the only way he knows how. This forms a subplot to the story.

The experience the author has in Reno, NV as a fireman and a paramedic shows in the research he has done for the book. Read it for the escapism it provides.

The best looking book reviewer in Santa Monica wants you to know there are good books out there. Pick one up soon. Contact me at smdp_review@yahoo.com soon.

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