FIRE LOVER: A TRUE STORY
Morrow, May 2002, 25.95, 338 pp.
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.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner