Justin Charles, Mar 2004, 13.99, 312 pp.
As a teenage babysitter, Fritillary Quilter was involved in a nasty blaze in which afterward she is accused of accidentally starting the inferno. She denies it, but officialdom points the finger at her. That is until arson expert Ike Blessing proves her innocence. She never forgot her hero and decided to be just like Ike, a caring fire investigator.
Years pass with Tilly gaining experience as an arson investigator. Her hero has no idea that she joined his field or how much his actions a decade ago influenced her life. That is he was unaware until they are assigned to work together on a deadly fire. Angry spinster Faith Browning is filing a wrongful death suit against seemingly the world over the demise of her actress sister Dorsey in a fire. Ike feels that the fire was used to cover up a murder, which the subsequent autopsy proves correct. As Tilly performs under Ike's tutelage the assignment she has dreamed of for ten years, she does not lose sight of the objective. She interviews those involved with the victim in a production of Our Town and other associates outside the theater to try to learn who wanted Dorsey dead.
Surprisingly the investigations seem a bit slow when compared with the terrific forensic dialogues between the lead protagonists. Readers will feel their enthusiasm as they discuss the latest techniques and share war stories more from Ike who is on a pedestal in Tilly's eyes. Though the murder mystery is fun to follow, it clearly is not on a par with the delightful dissertations from Arson Investigation 101 and 201.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner