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