Fire Lover

by Joseph Wambaugh

William Morrow, April, 2002.
Hardcover, 336 pages.
ISBN: 006009527X

Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh When someone who is expected to protect and serve the public uses his or her advantage in stature to commit crimes, it is both frightening and shocking. Fire Lover tells the tale of exactly this type of person. Fire Lover presents the story of John Leonard Orr, a fire captain and arson-investigator who became a dangerous arsonist and murderer. The book accounts Orr's life from his early days, before he became involved with the fire department, to his days as an arson investigator. It also describes in detail his many attempts at arson, both failures and successes, and the incendiary devices he used. Also chronicled are the events and people involved in Orr's arrest and his jury trial and conviction. In describing Orr's life the book gives vivid details of the many fires he was responsible for and the damage they cost both in lives and property loss. The book also gets inside the head of Orr himself, describing his thoughts and unusual ambitions.

Joseph Wambaugh is a former LAPD detective sergeant and New York Times bestselling author of The Onion Field, Golden Orange and Finnegan's Week. His detailed account of John Orr, the pyromaniac arson investigator, is first-rate. Wambaugh's writing is captivating and he masterfully portrays the life events and personality quirks that may have helped John Orr turn to a life of crime. The narrative also points out Orr's madness, such as his obsession with being noticed and his desire to do something great. Ironically, Orr was also writing a novel about a serial arsonist. Prosecutors used parts of Orr's novel and correspondence with publishers at the trial, because the accounts in the novel were similar to fires Orr had actually started himself. Wambaugh must have logged thousands of hours in research time for this book, interviewing witnesses and reading case records court transcripts. Wambaugh is a fascinating writer and Fire Lover is a truly entertaining and shocking story. Highly Recommended.

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This review was published in the December - January, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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