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Fire Lover [Mass Market Paperback]

Joseph Wambaugh
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 4.71 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books; Reprint edition (Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060095288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060095284
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 10.7 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 619,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
South Pasadena is a small city of some twenty thousand residents who live within three square miles of mostly aging homes and limited commercial property. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting viewpoint on a horrible crime 31 Dec 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I already knew the basics of this story having seen a documentary about it, however this book went into more detail and gave more of an insight into the investigation and trial. I found it to be well written and I could not put the book down. The insights into the mind of John Orr are fascinating and the way this horrific crime and its consequences are handled was very well done. This is not your standard true crime book - the author has his own views on every aspect of the crime and investigation - however it does make you think and makes you realise just how much work goes into convicting these people. I would recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but worth it 17 April 2012
By Anon
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Packed with factual data- but portrayal of main character keeps you going. Do not expect typical Wambaugh or his humour.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing how an ego can be dangerous!! 29 April 2004
By Frederick A. Babb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Orr was a firefighter by destiny but not desire. His hidden wish was to someday be a policeman, but that never came to be. So he followed into the firefighting world after spending his boyhood days filled with marveling at firefighters rushing to extinguish blazes in life risking manuevers. Those impressions led him to become a firefighter with the Glendale Fire Department when he became an adult.
While there, he quickly climbed the ranks until he reached fire captain. Along the way he gained the reputation of being Southern Cal's most famous and respected arson investigator as well as an author of firefighting articles which lead to a fact-based book of his own. A rather storybook tale of a perfect life.
As Orr's ego grew, he needed more. The oportunity arose when one arson continuously escape his grasps. The arsonist, using the same simple yet devastating device, was basically terrorizing the area and his frolicing left four innocent people dead as well as destroying millions of dollars in property damage as well as the damage to nature itself. As is often the case, this arsonist got comfortable and made a mistake after years of devastation. One precious clue was left behind and fell into the wrong hands. This clue would reveal the true identity of the cruel arsonist and the horrid facts behind his hobby.
Orr had created the fires to create fame for himself. His ego wanted, needed the limelight and he needed a nemisis uncatchable that would keep him in the public's eye. Sadly, his own desire for the ultimate reward was of little value in a firefighter world and beyond his grasp. Probably acknowledging this, he created his own fame through terror. John Orr was a firefighter that did not belong in that world.
The author does an excellent job on this story and tells it like it is. The court room part is a bit longwinded and boring, but reality isn't always excitement, as John Orr himself can tell you.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange fish 17 May 2002
By Dave Schwinghammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read all of Joseph Wambaugh's books, from THE NEW CENTURIONS to FIRE LOVER, and this was the least enjoyable.
FIRE LOVER probably doesn't measure up because there's not a whole lot of suspense. We know from the synopsis that arson investigator John Orr may have been the most notorious arsonist since Nero. Orr was a brazen offender, setting fires in the middle of the day when customers were in the stores, leading to the death of four at Ole's Home Center in South Pasadena. But he makes one big mistake, leaving his fingerprint on yellow legal paper that was used, along with a cigarette, a rubber band and three matches, to start a fire similar to the one at Ole's Home Center. The fingerprint was almost ignored because of the jealousy between firemen and police arson investigators.
Much of the book involves courtroom gymnastics. There are so many closing statements that you tell yourself, "this must be the last one." But you're wrong. There are more of them during the penalty phase and Wambaugh cites them all, practically verbatim.
Wambaugh is also famous for his irreverent narrative tone. This works in CHOIRBOYS, where we assume the narrator is a man in blue, but here he's supposed to be an objective journalist. He refers to jurors, lawyers, and judges as "...strange fish that lazily glide, blowing gas bubbles that pop ineffectually on the surface of the litigation tanks in which they live and breed." He likes this strange fish motif so much he uses it over and over again.
All of this said, I'm still looking forward to Wambaugh's next fictional tome. It seems an eternity since FLOATERS.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars chilling true crime biography 5 May 2002
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
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.

Harriet Klausner
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WAMBAUGH'S SECOND BEST NON-FICTION EFFORT 22 Jun 2003
By Jeff Howard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is right up there with THE ONION FIELD as a Wambaugh non-fiction book. Very interesting reading about a firefighter who was also a serial arsonist. Got a little long in the court room section of the book but other than that I found it very compeling. Wambaugh is always a great read.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction. Very well written story of a fire-bug 7 Dec 2004
By Joseph H Pierre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the story of perhaps the most prolific fire-bug in the history of the United States, John Leonard Orr, who is now serving a life sentence without possibility of parole, in the U.S. Penitentiary at Lompoc, California, where in due time he will be transferred to the California State system.

The story leads the reader through Orr's life as a reject from LA Law Enforcement, a failed LA Fire Dept. academy starter, to the acceptance by Glendale Fire Dept., a much lower-paid position, where over a period of years he became a Captain/Arson Investigator.

As an avocation, the Fire Captain, sworn to protect the public from fires, was starting them by the hundreds, and then grabbing attention by solving "How" they were started. He seemed to have an intuitive grasp of where to find the points of origin, and the incendiary devices.

Orr was a copy "wannabe," who tried constantly to impress the police with his acuity and bravery, effecting arrests (although it was not his job). He carried guns in the shower. But he was all a sham.

Eventually, Orr was caught, of course, and tried, and convicted. The evidence against him was as damning as in the O.J. Simpson case, but there was no race card to throw in, and no jury nullification factor.

He caused the deaths of a least four, and perhaps five people, in one fire at Ole's Dept. store, and he wrote a supposedly fiction book, which reads like a very poorly written diary, and the contents of which were damning and led to his conviction.

Orr thought he was smater than anyone else, but his own big mouth and braggadocio was his ulitimate dowlfall.

I ordered this book and Orr's own "masterpiece", Points of Origin, after watching a presentation by Court TV. He will not profit from his writing, as it goes to restitution, but even if he did, if the quality of his writing talent has anything to do with it, he'll die penniless.

Joseph Wambaugh, on the other hand, is a wonderful craftsman, also from the LA Police Dept., where he was a detective sergeant. In addition to this book, he wrote The Onion Field, The Blooding, and The Choirboys.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre, Retired

Oregon Dept. of Corrections
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